SCOTLAND'S heritage organisation is being sued for more than £150,000 in damages for "poisoning" hundreds of ancient trees.

Documents released under Freedom of Information strongly suggests that Scottish Natural Heritage made use of the chemical glyphosate which is currently banned in over 13 countries in the destruction of 300-year-old trees on Inchtavannach Island.

Scottish Natural Heritage is accused by Luss Estates, which owns the island, of creating a "wasteland" through "environmental vandalism" and said it is taking action because the quango has refused to cover the costs of felling and removing all the trees five years on.

Freedom of Information releases show that a Forestry Commission Scotland site visit refers to "glyphosphate (?)" being used to destroy the trees and is believed to be a spelling error. It also refers to a tenant who refers to the use of "glyphosphate".

Luss Estates says uncovered correspondence makes clear that the "poisoning" of the trees by Scottish Natural Heritage at the end of 2013 was unauthorised and that a felling licence was required.


In August, chemical giant Monsanto was ordered to pay £226m damages to a man who claimed herbicides containing glyphosate had caused his cancer.

In a landmark case, a Californian jury found that Monsanto knew its Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers were dangerous and failed to warn consumers.

Monsanto denies that glyphosate causes cancer and has said it intends to appeal against the ruling.

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Luss Estates, which owns the island, said SNH had created a canopy of dead trees which were a "major eyesore" in one of the Scotland’s foremost beauty spots and a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and would take generations to restore. It says efforts to reach an agreement with the quango on restoration work have been rebuffed.

Lawyers for the estate this week have given the SNH a deadline of the end of this week to reach a settlement that could yet stave off the action.

They are demanding that the quango covers the cost of felling dead trees that are still standing, removing felled timber to the mainland, lost timber value and management and legal costs, totalling £152,340. They are also insisting that SNH makes a public apology.


The body has previously admitted that it had not appreciated the impact that its work on Simon Miller, Luss Estates chief executive, said: ‘This amounts to wanton environmental vandalism at one of the most beautiful places in the whole of the UK.

‘The local community was appalled when it saw what had been done to the ancient beech trees on the island, and the resulting blight on the landscape. It beggars belief that the body that is supposedly responsible for protecting our natural heritage left Inchtavannach looking like a wasteland, and appears to have used the controversial chemical glyphosate in the process.

"This is a tragedy that cannot be undone for generations. To make matters worse, after behaving so recklessly and admitting they did not appreciate the impact their work would have, Scottish Natural Heritage has dragged its feet for years when asked to do the bare minimum to start to put matters right.

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"In the circumstances, we have no option but to seek damages so that the dead trees can finally be removed. In addition, given the outrage and distress that their actions have caused, we also think that Scottish Natural Heritage should make a full public apology."

SNH refused to discuss what chemical they used.

An SNH spokesman said: “Inchtavannach is internationally important for its oak woodland but the condition of the woodland has been affected by a lack of regeneration, a lack of dead wood and the spread of non-native plants. We have worked with Luss Estates and the tenant over several years on agreed management measures to improve the condition of the woodland.

“We are disappointed to have received this claim as our staff continue to work closely with Luss Estates to find workable solutions to tackling the problems with non-native trees on Inchtavannach. We have asked our solicitors to respond to the letter, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”