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Meet the Broughty Ferry woman fighting to save birds’ home from Aldi bulldozers

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Jeannie Cooper at the soon to be lost greenspace at Tom Johnston Road.

A Broughty Ferry conservation expert is fighting supermarket behemoth Aldi to save a wildlife habitat from the chop.

Jeannie Cooper has been enjoying the small woodland which runs along the A92 near Tom Johnston Road for nearly 20 years.

“I don’t think many people realise that it’s here, but it’s a lovely place and has great biodiversity,” she said.

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Jeannie Cooper at the soon-to-be-gone hedgerow near the A92.

“There are great tits, song thrush, blue tits, swallows, rabbits, lots of insects and more.”

But the trees are to be cut down later this year to make way for the Broughty Ferry Aldi — even though they do not sit where the store or car park will be built.

Two decades of enjoying the biodiverse land

Keen-walker Jeannie started visiting the site not long after she moved to Broughty Ferry in the late 1990s.

Originally from the Humberside area, she described it as one of her favourite spots for short walks.

Jeannie, who has taught conservation at Elmwood College, said: “In the winter when the vegetation has gone you can see the nests and there are dozens of them.

To cut down all this habitat… is just pure vandalism.”

Jeannie Cooper

“It’s not just a home for the birds though. They use the land for feeding as well because there is a variety of insect life.”

She added: “Aldi have said they will replace the trees with a meter-high laurel, but that is no replacement.”

Broughty Ferry woman Jeannie has been asking Aldi representatives to reconsider the cut. However, she has been told the trees need to go so passing drivers can see the store.

She highlighted the Aldi off Arbroath Road, which is largely shielded from view by other shops.

An artist impression of what the store will look like.

“They could just put up a sign on the corner like there and drivers would know where the store is.”

Jeannie added: “I’m all for Aldi building a store on the site where it’s just grass, but to cut down all this habitat for the birds and insects just so drivers can see the building is just pure vandalism.

“It’s also a method of carbon capture right next to a busy road, and that’s just going to be ripped out.”

Boundary questions

Jeannie hopes she can come to a compromise with the budget supermarket because part of the greenery appears to lie beyond the application site.

She added: “There is a small fence among the trees and that looks to be the boundary of the site. There is hedgerow on the road-side of that fence and I don’t think they have permission to cut that down, but they have told me they will.

“They are quite upfront about it.

“I would like to see all the trees saved. Even if I could at least save the hedgerow, that would be something for the birds and insects.”

The planning process

Dundee City Council originally rejected the application. Planning officers highlighted that the site had been earmarked for industrial use, so a retail unit would not be within the area’s character.

However, this was overturned on appeal by the Scottish Government.

Doubts have also been cast over whether the store will be allowed to sell alcohol.

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The appeal decision does not mention the trees in question, however two site visits were carried out in early 2020.

The eradication of hogweed from the site is required before the store is built.

‘Overgrown state’

In the planning application, Aldi described the trees to be in an “overgrown state”, but did not mention the wildlife living there.

When asked if they would consider saving the trees from the chopping block, a spokesperson for Aldi said: “We hope to begin construction of our new Dundee store towards the end of 2022 in line with the planning consent granted and plan to open the store in 2023.

“This will create about 35 jobs and enable local people to shop and save closer to home.”

The spokesperson refused to be drawn on issues surrounding the hedgerow and trees.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The independent reporter was required to make his decision in accordance with the development plan and on the planning merits of the case taking full consideration of the evidence submitted by all parties, including members of the local community.

“The reporter considered the case afresh and was not restricted in his examination of the proposed development to the council’s reasons for refusal.”