Up to 300 trees felled in heritage woodland, court hears

By Ann O'Loughlin

A judge has continued orders restraining further felling of trees on lands in Co Offaly amid allegations up to 300 trees in a heritage woodland of oak, bench, ash, sycamore and hawthorn trees, some up to 300 years old, have been felled.

Gerard Doorly, Claremount House, Banagher, Co Offaly has taken proceedings against Ciara and Padraig Corrigan, purchasers in trust of lands adjoining his home.

They contend his case is without foundation and only trees deemed to be dangerous were felled.

File image.

Mr Doorly disputes their claims dangerous trees were felled in accordance with a notice from Offaly County Council and contends the tree felling began 33 days before that notice issued last April.

In sworn statements, he says the affected lands include a woodland of similar style, age and layout to Dublin's Phoenix Park.

A draft report prepared for him by an arborist had said the damage to the lands includes the felling of some 16,089 square metres of oak, beech, ash, sycamore and hawthorn trees, some of which were between 220-300 years old, he said.

He says 55 oak trees, 66 beech trees, 139 ash trees, 23 hawthorn and 28 sycamore trees have been removed and 3.3 acres of forest floor was also "bulldozed to brown earth", removing 220 years of flora and fauna and destroying a natural habitat for birds and indigenous wildlife.

The amenity loss has been estimated as €140,000 while the value of the felled timber has not been estimated, he says.

He also says the surrounding area of Claremount Demesne has four areas designated as special areas of conservation, special protection areas and national heritage areas.

Mr Doorly, then representing himself, earlier this month obtained interim injunctions from Ms Justice Caroline Costello restraining tree felling.

Those orders were made ex parte, with one side only represented, and the defendants subsequently alleged Mr Doorly misled the court concerning his ownership of the lands on which the trees were felled.

In a sworn statement, Mr Corrigan, of Harold's Cross Road, Dublin, said the lands at issue were formerly owned by Mr Doorly but, except for a small portion, were purchased by the defendants on foot of a court-ordered sale.

He said judgment mortgages had been registered against Mr Doorly's interest in the lands.

As a result of the sale, Mr Doorly has no title on which to ground a claim restraining any trespass or damage by the defendants, he said.

Mr Corrigan said the tree felling was on foot of a notice issued to the defendants by Offaly County Council on April 28th last which required any trees identified by an arborist as dangerous be removed within 28 days.

Mr Doorly, who has since obtained legal representation from McKeever Solicitors, denied he misled the court or tried to do so and says he was unaware at the time of certain matters concerning transfer of the lands.

Had he not initiated the proceedings, the defendants would have continued to fell trees on the entire Claremount demesne and the case is equally aimed at ensuring protection of his own lands, he said.

When the matter returned before the judge on Thursday, she continued the orders restraining tree felling and adjourned various motions to June 21st.

She clarified the orders do not prevent dealing with trees already felled and also said it is open to the defendants', whose counsel said there would be no tree felling, to apply to substitute an undertaking for the orders.


Related Articles

Boy, 13, appears in court charged with murder of Anastasia Kriegal

Former Credit Union employee charged with stealing €400k

David Drumm answered Ireland's call and did not engage in hookery or crookery, barrister tells court

Minimum 40-year and 37-year terms for men who murdered four children in UK blaze

More in this Section

Analysis: Truly remarkable the Irish people have reversed their position so starkly in 35 years

First exit poll predicts 'landslide' victory for Yes campaign

Euromillions results are in...

Two men armed with hammer raid empty cash-in-transit van


Today's Stories

Anastasia murder: Boy, 13, charged

Ireland’s defamation laws ‘must match Europe’s’

Nine killed on Irish railways in 2017

‘Jastine, I am sorry that our country let you down’

Lifestyle

New father’s life ‘changed forever’ after he was run over by surgeon

The biggest cancer killer will take your breath away

Hopefully she had an idea...

Power of the press: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks discuss 'The Post'

More From The Irish Examiner