Environmental groups dispute claims that plans for ‘wild parks’ in Dundee have the overwhelming support of city residents.
Dundee City Council plans to turn almost 30 grassy areas into ‘biodiversity zones’ where grass will not be cut and plants would be allowed to grow freely.
After a recent survey, the authority said 75% of those questioned supported the idea.
But two city groups, Friends of Clatto and Friends of Magdalen Green, have labelled the biodiversity plans a “cost-cutting exercise”.
The ‘wrong image’ of Dundee
They believe leaving large parts of the city’s parks and green areas uncut will project the wrong image of Dundee.
But the council said they received feedback, even before the consultation, saying people enjoyed the wildlife when grass was not cut during lockdown last year.
City council consultation
A council spokesman said: “Dundee City Council received 550 responses to the survey.
“The consultation has conclusively shown that there is a public appetite for biodiversity grasslands/naturalised grasslands at each of the 27 sites proposed. ”
Neighbourhood services convener Anne Rendall called the survey results “very positive” and said there was “overwhelming support” for the plans.
However both environmental groups plan to write to the council with their concerns and hold their own public survey.
Dorothy McHugh of Friends of Clatto, which works to preserve and protect Clatto Country Park, said: “We believe that plans to leave large swathes of the city’s parks and grassland uncut and uncared for was merely a cost-cutting exercise.
“We have been left angered by this entire consultation process.
“This is about cutting costs. If they really cared about biodiversity, they would manage the existing green spaces we have across the city, instead of just leaving them to wither away.
“You’d have to look far to find a more biodiverse environment than Clatto – and yet they have neglected it for years.”
Dorothy also disputed the “overwhelming support”, pointing out the 550 people surveyed was only a fraction of the population.
Dorothy said: “Anne Rendall claims there is overwhelming support for the creation of biodiversity sites and naturalised grasslands in our parks and green spaces.
“She may be right – but how could she possibly know that with only 550 people responding to the consultation and no engagement with existing environmental groups?”
“Friends of Clatto, as an established environmental group, would be interested to know when and where these discussions and dialogue took place, or are taking place.
“We sent a formal response to the proposals and received an acknowledgement that our comments would be included as part of the consultation – end of dialogue.
“Clatto is already 90% wild. What little managed parkland there is needs to be preserved so that local people have an area to picnic, and children have a space to play.”
Mess of dandelions
Jim Dryden of Friends of Magdalen Green said they too dismissed the council’s claims of overwhelming support.
He said: “We question how the council can possibly try to claim, by taking the result of 550 people, there is overwhelming support and that the vast majority of residents want this.”
“Magdalen Green is currently a mess with dandelions everywhere.
“This is causing the added problem of seeds blowing about all over the West End and ending up in people’s private gardens as well, causing them to seed there.”
Mr Dryden said the group believes leaving the edges of grassy areas uncut is not good for the city’s image.
He said: “We think it just looks scruffy and a mess.
“We are also planning on carrying out our own survey of residents of the West End to get their thoughts for ourselves because we do not believe that the vast majority of people are in favour of this at all.”
Parks identified for the new zones in a council survey include Dawson, Camperdown, Stobsmuir, Fintry, Caird and the Broughty Ferry Esplanade, as well as Magdalen Green.
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “We are fully committed to maintaining and expanding biodiversity in the city.
“We have launched a Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) to highlight how best to protect, enhance and raise the awareness of biodiversity in Dundee by 2030.
“The recent three-month consultation process, with residents and community groups, for Biodiversity and Naturalised Grasslands in parks and green spaces has been one part of this overall Plan.
“Going forward, we will continue to have dialogue with local people and groups about specific locations which require further discussion.”