Edinburgh cuts down on Christmas trees to save money – and protect the planet

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It’s been a tradition at the heart of Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations for generations.

But now the days of cut trees decorating squares and high streets in the capital could be numbered, as the city council moves towards more sustainable – and cheaper – options.

Following a recent review, council chiefs want to move towards a more environmentally friendly approach to Christmas and, with cut trees costing the council £45,000 a year, to save money by decorating pre-existing trees instead.

The city’s Haymarket, Tollcross, Portobello and Drylaw areas will all lose their traditional cut tree in favour of the more sustainable option.

In Portobello – which also did not have a tree last year – six trees along the front of the shops and the Town Hall will be dressed with white lights.

A report from the community council said: “This is instead of the cut and dressed tree which has been installed in the past. The city is trying to move away from cut trees to more sustainable options of dressing existing natural trees or planting trees and dressing them.”

Six living trees in Tollcross will also be decorated instead of one cut tree. And Haymarket will receive a “column motif” of lit festive designs in place of the cut tree – last Christmas the area’s tree was damaged in winds. In Drylaw a living tree will be decorated instead of a cut tree.

A number of areas will have new decorative light columns, and Craigmillar Library will also be dressed with festive lights.

A feature tree in East Princes Street gardens will also be specially lit up and decorated.

Rod Alexander, chairman of Davidson’s Mains & Silverknowes Association, said: “The council have promised to decorate an existing oak tree in an ideal location in ­Davidson’s Mains. It is exactly what we want – a good tree, right at a focal point in the village and ideally placed for the light switch-on ceremony on 1 December.”

Culture and communities convener Donald Wilson said: “Through moving towards adorning natural, living trees with lights, we’re able to be far gentler on the planet while spreading the festive cheer much further this year.”