Woman wants trees cut back after being left 'vulnerable by break-ins'
AN EAST Belfast woman is calling on Roads Service to cut back trees on the Comber Greenway as it has left her feeling vulnerable at night following two break-ins at her home.
Trudy Mearns from Orangefield claims the trees block out the sunlight to her house and burglars used the greenway to gain access to her property.
She has contacted the Alliance Party and UUP in an attempt to garner support, but has found that statutory bodies are "passing the buck" when it comes to cutting back the trees.
She says she has contacted the Department of Environment, City Hall and the Department of Regional Development about the issue but to no avail.
"They come out to unblock the drains of all the pine needles that appear, and I have to go around constantly cleaning them up, but no one comes out to cut back the trees," said Trudy.
"At night it's terrible, when you live on your own you feel very vulnerable and it gets very dark.
"When it snowed there were footprints coming from the greenway up to my house, and they weren't mine."
Trudy's neighbour Heather Malcolm agrees that the problem is getting out of hand and that she topped her own tree to keep it at a lower level but that the trees on the greenway are getting so tall that they are cutting off light to homes along Orangefield Road.
UUP Lord Reg Empey went to Trudy's house this week to take photos of the trees, which he states are "enormous" and has said he will be taking the matter up with Road Service.
He said: "The council has a responsibility to deal with neighbour to neighbour relations on this matter. In this case Road Service are this woman's neighbour.
"They can't have their cake and eat it."
Alliance Councillor Laura MacNamee said: "The big issue with the greenway is that it is Road Service who deal with trees on it, and we have been lobbying to try to acquire some maintenance rights for Belfast City Council – it would make strategic sense
High hedges legislation does not allow for complaints about one tree, non-evergreen hedges or trees, trees within a forest or woodland (more than 0.2 hectares) or complaints about roots, dangerous trees, or leaves.
A DOE spokesperson said: "If the trees on the Comber Greenway are evergreen or semi-evergreen, but not deciduous, and causing a loss of reasonable enjoyment of her property due to acting as a barrier to light she can make a complaint to her local council. They have responsibility for dealing with the issue even if the hedge is on publically owned land."
A Road Service spokesperson said: "Roads Service is the first point of contact regarding the trimming of trees on Comber Greenway.
"It seems though some tall trees may block light into homes this is not a basis to have them trimmed. Trees deemed diseased or hazardous would be cut down or trimmed."