Community campaigners fighting to save the Silverlea woodland, wildlife and heritage site from a housing development have condemned as “Council lies” the claim that the site is a “barren” fly tipping site of “low landscape value and low recreational value with few quality trees”.
Some of the mature trees on the Silverlea site, photo taken summer 2022
A meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council development sub-committee on 10 August flouted the Council’s own policy by approving the building of 142 houses on the green belt in the Muirhouse and the Salvesens area in north-west Edinburgh. However as we write on 24th November, the Council is still to issue the formal decision at the relevant portal
The Save Our Silverlea campaign continues.
The Save Our Silverlea Campaign describe a photo of the site produced by the Council to justify the development as “totally misleading”. “The photo showed a big pile of fly tipped waste – but when a team from Save Our Silverlea visited the site days after the Council meeting, all we found was one white plastic bag and a dumped shopping trolley. The Council photo was either very old or taken elsewhere. Councillors visited the site on the day before the meeting so they should have known the photo was ‘fake news’.”
Save Our Silverlea have produced photos of the site showing massive trees and a verdant and vibrant woodland. 30-40 mature trees are to be felled to make way for the proposed scheme. “We defy anyone – even a Councillor – to look at these magnificent trees and say this is a “barren” fly tipping site. Clearly there has been some fly tipping over the years but if the site was sympathetically opened up to the community as a mini nature reserve with low impact paths and perhaps a children’s play area, then this increased footfall would act as a deterrent to flytipping. The Council is effectively “saving” the site by destroying it.”
Freedom of Information request
The Council tried to justify the destruction of dozens of mature trees by claiming they were planting 131 saplings on the narrow strip of grass known as Silverknows Park. At the Council meeting Save Our Silverlea spokesperson Edward Murray described the real situation: “My flat overlooks Silverknowes Park and I watched them planting these saplings out in mid February on a bitter cold day with the ground waterlogged,” he explained. “The end result is the vast majority of these saplings never took root. They’re dead.”
When Save Our Silverlea submitted a Freedom of Information request, the Council replied : “The cost to the Council for the tree plantation at Silverknowes Park in February was £3,456 (excluding VAT). “That’s £4,000 of council tax money for serried ranks of dead twigs in plastic tubes,” pointed out the SOS spokesperson Eddie Murray. “That is supposed to be a replacement for 30 – 40 mature trees, some of them centuries old and over 80 feet high. That doesn’t strike us as a fair exchange.”
Above : The newly planted saplings on nearby Silverknowes Park – almost all dead. The Council claims these saplings are to replace the dozens of mature trees which the development would destroy
At the Council meeting Eddie described Muirhouse, where he has lived for over 30 years, as “just a dormitory for workers to sleep in before going back to work again”. He added: “Muirhouse is the size of a small town; it has no primary school, no park, not even a pub. It doesn’t even have a supermarket. In short, it is a deprived area. We have nothing down there. It’s one of the most deprived areas in Edinburgh.
“And now, having taken practically everything, you want to take our last green space, the Silverlea site, for development, destroying a wildlife habitat and creating congestion and pollution along the Silverknowes/Muirhouse Parkway, described by Police Scotland as ‘the second most dangerous road in Edinburgh’.”
Save our Silverlea are continuing their campaign: “As climate change threatens the future of humanity, we need to act to defend our green spaces. This land should be used for the local community – not to make £millions for greedy property developers. We need much more council/ social housing – build council houses on the brownfield sites where they are now building 1000s of private houses. The struggle to save our Silverlea continues.”