Contention over plans to fell trees on the Coolattin Estate in County Wicklow.

Three quarters of the land on the Coolattin Estate is wooded mainly by oak trees aged over a hundred years.

The value of the woods is clear. Out of roughly 120 tree preservation orders issued in Ireland to date, a quarter of the total have been issued for blocks of woodland on this one estate.

Owner of Coolattin House and 63 acres of land in Coolattin Woods, Magnus Wardrop, is spearheading the campaign against the felling of the trees. He has the support of local people who fear for the future of the woodland.

Magnus Wardrop is outraged that some of the trees on the estate have been numbered for felling. He believes that the preservation orders on these trees should have been enforced properly by Wicklow County Council.

There is such a consensus of opinion in this area against all of this and we're just amazed at the swell of indignation from the local people.

Preservation orders on trees within the woods have now been lifted putting the woodland under threat. The problem is that timber is considered a crop and the owner has the right to harvest the crop. The owner is entitled to compensation if prevented from harvesting the crop by a preservation order. The woods at Coolattin are owned by Mr Pat Tatton and Mr Michael Shanley under the company Bridge Farms. They were unavailable for comment. They could have claimed £75,000 for one small group of trees if they had been refused permission to fell them.

Ultan McCabe of Wicklow County Council defended the granting of permission for the trees to be felled and said that there were onerous conditions attached to the permission in order to preserve the integrity of Coolattin House which is owned by Mr Wardrop.

The fact that we had to pay compensation was the dominant factor.

The only way around the law as it stands is to get a Special Amenity Order and subsequently a conservation order for the woods. This would have to be passed by both houses of the Oireachtas.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 26 July 1985. The reporter is Mary Butler.