Upgrade scheme threatens Canal cherry blossom

May 13, 2013

The iconic corridor of cherry blossom trees which line Newry Canal is under threat from the planned public realm scheme, the Examiner has learned.

The trees are a significant feature of Newry city centre and line the canal bank from Albert Basin to Sugar Island.  Their spring blossom is admired by both residents and visitors alike and at Christmas – branches decorated with twinkling fairy lights – the trees are a sight to behold.

However, it emerged at a recent meeting of Newry and Mourne District Council that the trees are to be removed to make way for the planned public realm scheme scheduled to begin later this month.  The environmental improvement scheme along the western bank of the Canal from Dublin Bridge to Sugar Island bridge will replace the existing canal boundary wall with a decorative railing and paved pathway.  New decorative lighting and street furniture will also be incorporated into the scheme.  To make way for this upgrade, it appears necessary to remove the current natural, and many would argue, most decorative feature – the cherry blossom trees.

Sinn Fein Councillor Charlie Casey has challenged Council officials to justify the removal of the trees.

Pointing out that Councillors were initially informed the trees were to be removed, and subsequently replaced, to facilitate the work of the contractor, Mr Casey says officials have now stated that the trees are diseased.  It is thought they will be replaced by alternative mature trees.

“While the people of Newry have welcomed plans to open up the Canal bank there is real public concern that this may be at the expense of this natural feature,” Councillor Casey said.

“I have asked that a full report on the condition of the trees be brought to the next Council meeting so that Councillors can satisfy ourselves that such a drastic measure is justified.”