Souters didn’t ask questions about how many trees would be lost to the town’s flood protection scheme because they were “brainwashed by experts”, it was claimed this week.
Conservationist John Fair, of Ettrickbridge, told a community council meeting of his concern at the £32million scheme’s “excessive” tree-felling and asked: “Why did those trees have to come down, and who gave permission?”
Scottish Borders councillor Vicky Davidson replied: “The councillors and the Scottish Government gave permission. The trees came down because workers need access to move utilities, and to put in walls and bunds. Flood officers visited every house affected, identifying the trees to come down. All the trees were marked – that’s how we got the exact number, 2,300.”
But Mr Fair argued: “It will be nearer 6,000 because any tree under a certain size was not counted.
But council secretary Alistair Pattullo said: “Every tree coming down will be replaced by two trees. Generations after us will have the benefit from the flood prevention scheme, and will walk under the shade of these new trees. We have to trust these experts – they know what they’re doing.”
Michelle Ballantyne, another SBC member, added: “It’s difficult when experts tell you this is the way forward, it goes to consultation, there’s little protest and we’re all told, ‘This is fabulous for the town’. On what basis can you then say ‘no’, when the Scottish Government is funding it?”
Council chairman Graham Easton concluded: “In hindsight, we can say, yes, people should have asked more questions, or paid more attention. It’s easy to be brainwashed when experts are in front of you. But the consultation period has happened, and the damage has been done. Once the trees are down, they’re down.”