A 123-year-old tree that has been centre of a legal battle to save it may be cut down by the end of the month.

Insurance companies Allianz and Aviva asked Haringey Council to fell the otherwise healthy plane tree in Oakfield Road, Stroud Green, blaming it for subsidence at two homes.

Remarkably, one of the householders affected, Andrew Brenner, challenged Haringey Council's decision to fell it in court.

He said the tree was not the cause, and called instead for underpinning - which opponents say insurers dislike as it costs more.

In May it seemed the tree had been temporarily saved after the council settled out of court, paying Mr Brenner's legal costs and withdrawing all decisions to fell the tree.

But Haringey Council wrote to neighbours on October 26 saying that keeping it places "a significant financial liability" on the council.

A council spokesperson confirmed it fears a £1m claim - or even double that if both companies claim.

The letter said the tree will not be felled before November 23 as the council may face a new legal challenge.

Giovanna Iozzi is a member of campaign group Haringey Tree Protectors, whose protests last December prompted Haringey to try to ban them from the site.

She said: "We are horrified that the insurance companies are coming back again for a perfectly healthy tree when they should be doing work on a house. It's a complete mess and shows how rigged the system is against trees."

A spokesperson for Haringey Council said: “Following careful consideration of all the submissions, the difficult and final decision has been reached to remove the tree.  

"If the tree remains, expert estimations tell us the council risks facing an insurance claim of up to £1 million in relation to one of the properties (and perhaps double that if a claim were to be made in respect of the other property), which would be better spent on delivering key frontline services." 

The said boroughs up and down the country faced the same dilemma, adding:  "It is wrong that councils are having to make the choice between saving a tree and paying huge sums of taxpayers’ money or felling a tree.”

An Allianz spokesperson said: “It would not be appropriate for us to comment at the moment due to the ongoing process.

"Ultimately this claim has always been about the solidity of two homes and we have always viewed removing the tree as a last resort. We are communicating with our customer and next steps will be dependent on Haringey Council.”