THE residents of one of Scotland’s most expensive streets have accused the owners of the luxury Gleneagles Hotel of carrying out a “chainsaw massacre” of mature Scots pines bordering their exclusive enclave.
Caledonian Crescent, which lies close to the PGA Centenary course which is to host next year’s Ryder Cup, is one of the premier addresses in the country where property prices average more than £1.5 million – the highest house price for a street outside Edinburgh.
But residents claim they were left in the dark about the hotel’s decision to fell 36 trees, some more than 100 years old, as part of the works to prepare the course’s driving range in time for the 2014 competition.
Maggie McCaig, who has lived in Caledonian Crescent with her husband James, a farmer, for 25 years, said she was outraged at the treatment residents had received at the hands of Gleneagles, who had failed to inform or consult them on their plans.
She said: “It is devastating. It’s been a chainsaw massacre. They should be looking after the trees for future generations, not destroying them.
“The trees are over 100 years old and we have a lot of red squirrels who do nest in these trees, but they are chopping down the entire copse. It’s unbelievable what they are doing.”
Mrs McCaig claimed local residents had received no warning of the tree-felling operation. She said: “The first I knew anything was happening was when I heard a chainsaw. I presumed they were perhaps taking one tree down, but when I got to the copse there were already six trees lying on the ground.
“We are absolutely furious. We weren’t told and we weren’t given a chance to object.
“They are talking about replacing the trees with saplings, but they aren’t going to be planted here – they are going to other places on the estate.”
She added: “We have no objections to the Ryder Cup coming to Gleneagles, but if I knew this was the price we had to pay, I wouldn’t want it here.”
Neighbour Donald Grey-Wilson, 66, also condemned the tree-felling. He said: “I think it’s a great, great pity. They are mature trees. The hotel maintain they have a felling licence and that’s all they need legally to take these trees down.”
Scott Fenwick, Gleneagles’ head of courses and estates, said: “To help with drainage works, and as part of the ongoing preparations for the Ryder Cup, we’ve received permission from the Forestry Commission to remove a small number of trees from our driving range.
“There will be 36 trees in total [removed], out of a large copse. Our intention is to replace the trees we remove by planting 200 pines elsewhere in the grounds.”
He added: “We received permission from the Forestry Commission, and the application was out to public consultation for one month, with no objections.”
A spokesman for Forestry Commission Scotland said: “We issued a felling licence for this work after satisfying ourselves that there were no restrictions or constraints or any other cause for concern.
“We were satisfied that no evidence was found to indicate that there were bats or red squirrels living in the trees. We also consulted Historic Scotland … and received no objection.”