National Galleries '˜very willing' to help plant more trees after Princes Street gardens row

The National Galleries  said it is 'very willing' for more trees to be planted after a public backlash at the controversial loss of 52 of them from Princes Street Gardens.

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As part of the museum’s planning permission to redevelop its premises in Princes Street Gardens, the National Galleries of Scotland also secured the backing from the city council to chop down the trees to improve access to the building – with 22 replacements to be planted next spring.

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But now John Leighton, director general of the National Galleries of Scotland, has indicated that more replacements could be planted in other parts of the city, following a public outcry.

A bare Princes Street after the trees were cut down. Picture: SWNSA bare Princes Street after the trees were cut down. Picture: SWNS
A bare Princes Street after the trees were cut down. Picture: SWNS
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In a letter to the Edinburgh Evening News, he said: “We understand concerns expressed in recent feedback about any reduction in the number of trees in the city centre and we would be very willing to work with the City of Edinburgh and bodies such as Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust on any proposals they have for planting additional trees. This would be in addition to continuing with our already agreed plan to plant 22 new trees between 4.5m and 6m high in East princes Street Gardens next spring.

“The present scheme is the result of extensive consultation with a range of relevant bodies over several years and the plans were scrutinised and fully endorsed by the City of Edinburgh Council.

“The number of 22 replacement trees was viewed by planners to be appropriate for this space. However, it is clear that many people feel that the consultation should have been even wider and the recent response has demonstrated the huge amount of affection for the natural assets within the city.”

The announcement came after vice environment convener, Cllr Karen Doran, called on the galleries to “consider increasing the number of trees they plan to replace”.

Green city centre Cllr Claire Miller, welcomed the offer.

She said:“The cutting of the trees Princes Street Gardens has left a bitter taste from start to finish.

“I’m still unhappy at the scale of loss but, sadly, what’s chopped is chopped. So the very least that the National Galleries can do is replace them at least one to one, and ideally more. I’ll be asking council staff to follow up and make sure this offer is acted upon.”

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