Camden Council’s tree policy criticised: Campaigners call for end to ‘precautionary pollarding’
PUBLISHED: 15:50 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 08:12 18 November 2020
Camden’s policy of “precautionary pollarding” its street trees came under fire at a town hall scrutiny meeting on Monday evening.
Campaigners including Harvey Flinders from the Bartholomew Area Residents’ Association, Climate Emergency Camden’s Alice Brown and Catherine Hays made a deputation to the meeting, and called for the council to commit to planting more trees each year and to re-evaluate watering schedules.
Mr Flinders welcomed the new tree strategy, “in broad terms”, but said: “While this new approach is refreshing it lacks two vital ingredients: funding, and the urgency demanded by the climate emergency.”
Ms Brown added: “There’s no hard evidence that routine pollarding reduces insurance claims, and precautionary pollarding should be stopped to allow our trees to make a positive impact on the environment.”
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Council officers and environment chief Cllr Adam Harrison disputed that the policy was different to neighbouring boroughs.
In recent weeks pollarding – the cutting back of healthy tree branches to encourage uniform growth – in the Redington Frognal Conservation Area has drawn protests. The RedFrog Neighbourhood Forum is among the groups to have criticised the strategy.
Cllr Henry Newman (Con, Frognal and Fitzjohns) said it is vital for the town hall to move towards “a target for a net increase in trees”, while Cllr Luisa Porritt (Lib Dem, Belsize) called on the council to take more notice of the concerns of members of the community.
Cllr Harrison defended Camden’s record on tree planting and said in the past Mr Flinders had been able to meet with the town hall’s insurer to discuss his concerns.
“The truth is if you don’t manage your urban forest that could cause problems,” he said. “The real danger of not managing your urban forest properly, including through pollarding, is that the buildings can be affected and could even collapse if not looked after properly.
“Maintaining and increasing our tree population will be absolutely essential as we start to deal with climate change and to mitigate against it and that requires a proper management policy.”
He said not to do so would risk insurance claims “skyrocketing”.
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