Northern Ireland news

Young campaigner says 'hearts will break' if more trees are removed in south Belfast as part of flood project

Mollie-Rose McCartan Regan (10) is campaigning against the removal of trees along Stranmillis embankment in south Belfast

A 10-YEAR-OLD campaigner has said she is worried more trees will be cut down in south Belfast as part of a flood alleviation scheme.

Mollie-Rose McCartan Regan wrote to Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl about her fears for the mature trees, several of which have already been removed from along the Stranmillis Embankment.

The P6 pupil's letter was read out at a meeting of Belfast City Council last night.

"I have cared for the trees nearly half of my life and if they continue this they will break many hearts," the letter read.

"So all I wish for you to do is to replant these trees and restore this magnificent lane that we all love."

More trees are expected to be removed as part of investigation works for the Belfast Tidal Flood Alleviation Scheme.

A wall is due to be built as part of measures to protect 1,500 homes from rising tides caused by climate change.

Mollie-Rose, who is a pupil at Stranmillis Primary School, took part in a protest last week against the cutting down of the trees.

Her mother Olivia McCartan, who is from Edendork, Co Tyrone, said Mollie-Rose was very fond of the old tree-lined path along the river.

"She said to me, mummy I need to say goodbye to the trees," she said.

"She was hugging them and crying."

Mollie-Rose put a ribbon on the path to mark the cutting down of the trees.

"There are 40 ribbons on the railings now," Ms McCartan said.

"I am very proud of her."

Mollie-Rose McCartan Regan tying a ribbon on railings along Stranmillis embankment

She said campaigners want an environmental assessment to see if all the trees need to be removed

"We know that the flood wall is important but do they have to chop down all the trees?" she said.

Ms McCartan also hopes the path will be restored and called Mollie-Rose's Way.

"This is all her. It's just her passion," she said.

"She said to me 'mummy the trees don't have a voice so I have to give them a voice'."

Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl said there had been a lack of information about the flood scheme.

She echoed calls from SDLP MP Claire Hanna for better communication around the project.

"There are obviously concerns around flood alleviation and we need to look at the science and discuss it properly," she said.

"The lack of community engagement is where the concerns are.

"The children seemed most affected by it at that protest. They were visibly upset by it."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Infrastructure said it has consulted "residents, local elected representatives plus landowners and stakeholders at various stages of the Belfast Tidal Flood Alleviation Scheme".

She said several open days were held "at various locations along the length of the project".

"The scheme has also been presented to local councillors in the Belfast City Council Area working group in order to provide updates and information on the scheme," she said.

"The scheme has also been advertised in the local press."

She said officials met politicians last week and another meeting with the project design team, politicians and residents is planned for this week.

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