PLANNERS are looking into the extent of deforestation at Dromore’s Gill Hall after a number of locals voiced concerns about the recent widespread felling of trees at the famous local estate.
Scenes one man described as reminiscent of a Canadian logging camp prompted the circulation of an anonymous letter urging residents to contact the DoE, while some locals raised the matter with Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale’s office manager, Councillor Paul Rankin, who contacted the department on their behalf.
In a letter to Mrs. Hale, Planners confirmed they were looking into the matter to determine if there had been any breach of planning control.
“This matter is receiving our attention and you will be informed of the outcome in due course,” they said, while also pointing out, “In many instances, development that has been carried out does not require planning permission as it benefits from permitted development rights as set out in the Planning (General Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 1993 and does not therefore constitute a breach of planning control.”
Meanwhile, some locals are simply saddened at the felling of so many trees on the privately-owned land, where once stood the manor house at the heart of a well-known ghost story.
“At the end of the day it’s their land,” said one man, “and I suppose that they can do what they want with it, up to a point, but it’s a great shame.
“The Gill Hall estate is one of the oldest estates in Ireland. I’ve lived beside it for 40 years and to see it razed to the ground, well . . . you wouldn’t recognise it.
“There was another local resident who was almost in tears at the sight of the logs piled high. I’ve never seen anything like it outside of somewhere like Canada.”
Concerns have also been raised at the impact of the deforestation on local wildlife, the estate having been home, said one Dromore man, to woodcock and owls, among other things.
Councillor Rankin said he would certainly be concerned if it was established that there had been any breach of planning restrictions, though that remained to be seen.