Apr 032015

deer3picWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

A petition to examine issues surrounding Aberdeen’s Tullos Hill has gained sufficient public support for the city’s Petitions Committee to address the issues.

Campaigners were told today that they had exceeded the threshold of 250 signatures, and the city’s Petitions Committee will meet with the petitioners on 21 April.

Text of their petition can be found here http://committees.aberdeencity.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?Id=13 .

In May of 2011, campaigners wanted the deer spared and for Tullos Hill to be left as a meadow and the roe deer to be allowed to remain. The hill once had a field of dame’s violets, which a city official, Peter Leonard, dismissed as ‘garden escapees’. Campaigners argued that the flowers and the gorse were important habitat and should not have been removed.

The hill is a former industrial and domestic rubbish dumping ground with serious soil pollution issues. A ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme was put up for public consultation, but it omitted there was a deer cull already planned for the tree planting. When the public found out about the cull, thousands signed petitions and several community councils objected as well.

STV reported that 80% of the city opposed the scheme. The convener of the Housing & Environment Committee, Liberal Democrat Aileen Malone, demanded that the public come up with £225,000 for fencing – or the deer would be shot. Animal welfare charities and organisations were alarmed at this unprecedented demand, and people were urged not to give into the demand.

Free of charge services were offered to show the city how to grow the trees using non-lethal methods – these were dismissed out of hand.    A spokesperson for the Scottish SPCA referred to the culling of the deer for the tree scheme as ‘abhorrent and absurd.’

The public were initially told the tree planting would be at no cost to them. However, a Freedom of Information request revealed that an expert C J Piper, was paid £72,212 for services to the tree-planting scheme. Other expenses include fencing, the cost of having the deer shot, and a previous failed planting on the same hill which saw the taxpayers returning £43,800 to Scottish Natural Heritage.

The campaigners want to know what all of the expenses are both historic and ongoing.

John Robins of Animal Concern said:

“Aberdeen City Council have all but wiped out a perfectly healthy herd of deer which had existed for generations on a piece of rough land which has never been suitable for anything else. Tullos Hill evolved into its own natural habitat and should have been valued and protected for what it was and not destroyed to fit in with the grandiose plans of petty politicians. It is extremely unlikely that any new woodland will survive on Tullos Hill. The Council should stop wasting public money and leave the area to nature – in this instance mother nature definitely knows best.”

Kelly, who has written several articles for Aberdeen Voice and a report, continued:

“People feel they were misled on several aspects of the scheme.  People do not know how much money is involved,  how safe or otherwise the soil on the hill is, and why more deer must be shot. 

“There may be very few deer left in the entire city according to a recent SNH count. We want to know how much tax money has gone on this scheme, we want no further culling, and we want the city to seek assurances from the SNH that we won’t see another £43,800 bill coming our way: the trees are covered by weeds in many places, no matter how many awards have been dished out.”



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  6 Responses to “City Council To Hear Tullos Hill Petitioner”

  1. I have seen this mind set for years rough wild areas not valued and often used as an excuse for planning permission calling it “waste land” The Donald Trump fiasco was the same. Trump said, “the people will love it, we will make this piece of land beautiful.” What he said sadly is what a lot of people think. Manicured lawns, neat and tidy planting achieved with the use of chemicals and pesticides. Give me brambles nettles and gorse any day.

  2. Anyone who actually knows anything about the environment will know that getting rid of the deer will allow it to regenerate properly. Otherwise it’s about the same as having a flock of sheep grazing away at it.

    If we want to get greener, we need to do our homework. Otherwise we all end up looking like a bunch of ill-informed hippies and don’t get taken seriously!

  3. Exactly Bert. You are right. For this reason, the deer must be culled. Unless someone wants to let some Lynx or wolves loose on Tullos Hill?

    • Ben, you’ve not read a single one of the articles on AV about Tullos, or so it seems. There is a soil report saying trees won’t grow. It is common knowledge the deer population on this hill was stable for over 70 years – no starvation, no overpopulation. The new SNH guidelines are controversial; landowners, animal welfare groups and gamekeepers feel the deer numbers proposed are far too small. You bring up the old ‘no natural predator’ argument. Did you know there have been no natural predators in Scotland for over 300 years? Yet somehow we have increased the acreage of woodlands, and the deer population has not spiralled out of control, whatever the SNH say. But this is about Tullos, where the city has ripped up considerable quantities of gorse and meadowland on what was a rubbish tip with a very rocky soil matrix and little topsoil. The hill is subject to the high winds which would make any trees subject to wind toss, and the salt spray from the North Sea doesn’t exactly favour trees either. Finally, I hardly see what your comment has to do with Bert’s apparent desire to have had this hill left alone.

      • Hi Suzanne,

        Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry you feel the need to be so confrontational. We all want nature to flourish, we just have different ideas regarding the methodology.

        I’m skeptical regarding the soil issues. I don’t doubt that the soil is contaminated. However, I would find it remarkable if vegetation is entirely unable to grow and set into action a succession. The ability of nature to reclaim what we have damaged is extraordinary.

        I’m well aware that there have been no natural predators of deer for hundreds of years. This is why deer numbers have (and they have) risen out of control across large parts of the country (combined of course with management for high densities).

        Of course, Tullos is a very different place and isn’t a deer moor. Nevertheless the fact remains that culling deer (not eradicating, culling) represents a straight forward method for helping the vegetation to flourish and in turn boost biodiversity. A cull on its own, of course, isn’t the only answer. Some additional conservation / management work would also be required…which seems to be partly what ‘A tree for every citizen’ is proposing.

        It may well be true that the deer population at Tullos has been stable in the past. That’s fine, but at those levels it is unlikely that the ‘Trees…’ project would be a success. This represents a time when the (usually incompetent) council is actually making an effort to revitalise part of the city into a usable green space. Culling deer to help enable this to happen, is a good move in my opinion. In the end the habitat that is being proposed will be suitable (and better?!) for deer.

        Finally, my point with regards to Bert’s comment was a little facetious. Whereas Bert would prefer the hill ‘left alone’ in terms of not culling deer. I would prefer the hill ‘left alone’ in terms of reducing the grazing.

      • Hello Ben; interesting that you find my response confrontational; I found your remarks about Tullos and letting predators loose just a bit condescending. But it seems you still aren’t quite on the page. This was a meadow. It never was a forest. There have been expensive attempts to grow trees on Tullos. A 2008 report to the city explains that this former rubbish tip just won’t support trees because of its soil matrix. People made money from the scheme to try and turn it into a forest; they were given power by the city and no debate at all was allowed; no experts allowed to speak on how to try and grow trees without killing deer. The hill is rocky as well as being used as a dump for decades (industrial waste, domestic, and a touch of uranium and other metals); we had a biodiverse meadow we enjoyed; now we have weeds and tree guards. Please do look back at the copious quantity of articles on Aberdeen Voice; it will help. Bert is right; for at least 70 years we had the deer and the meadow. Then the Lib Dems, especially Aileen Malone, pushed for this scheme.

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