Stop the Chop for a Parking Lot

Stop the Chop for a Parking Lot

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“Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”

The words of Joni Mitchell’s 1971 song could not be more appropriate for this campaign as local residents oppose plans to fell 14 mature trees for extra parking along the Ropewalk area of Portaferry leading to an ancient woodland. It will involve the destruction of a copse with a small meadow and create a hard edge at the entrance to the beautiful Nugent’s Wood Trail and in other areas a single old tree is to be chopped to make way for one extra parking place!

The scheme is part of a wider regeneration plan for Portaferry, a little village on the tip of the Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland and a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Scientific Interest. The site for the new car park is also an area of Archaeological Potential and listed on the register of Historic Demesnes and Parks but despite all these designations the Council have not even applied for planning permission for the car park but have pushed ahead under ‘permitted development’.

Local residents welcome new investment, but are furious that no appropriate consultation took place. They were not told about the felling of 14 mature trees to build the car park. Because the trees are located in a conservation area they all benefit from the protection of a tree preservation order (TPO) so the Council had to apply for planning permission to remove them and it’s own planning Dept. granted that permission. 

We are calling for the Council to re-design the scheme and make the area part of the Nature Recovery Network - the government’s 25-year Environment Recovery Plan. The copse is a habitat for Red Squirrels, Pine Marten, numerous woodland birds and foraging bats – lots of our local residents have photos of the red squirrels in the trees and the area is much enjoyed by visitors to the local area and Exploris Aquarium, who use the copse adjacent to the existing car park and next to the woodland entrance for family picnics, children’s ball games and exercising family pets.  

We would appreciate your support for this campaign. It may seem like a little thing, just a few trees, but all the little things taken together impact the big things. Trees for tarmac sends out the wrong message especially since Ards and North Down Borough Council were the first Council in Northern Ireland to declare a climate emergency. We would like them to make that declaration more than empty words.  We need to change the mindset of planners and engineers encouraging them to make nature and species protection central in their plans.  It’s also time to set the right example for generations to come, and that example is most definitely not paving paradise to put up a parking lot.

Further information and press enquires can be obtained from: 078 7402 3528

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!