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Campaigners urge council to rethink its tree planting and management policies

PUBLISHED: 18:00 13 November 2019

A recently planted in Kentish Town Road which has since died. Picture: HARVEY FLINDER

A recently planted in Kentish Town Road which has since died. Picture: HARVEY FLINDER

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Campaigners in Camden are calling for an overhaul of the borough's tree management policy over concern about how they are planted and looked after.

Both Harvey Flinder of the Bartholomew Residents' Association and Herman Tribelnig of Camden Urban Design Improvement told the council to take a leaf out of other boroughs' policies and stop routinely pollarding trees.

Camden Council pollards its 8,500 street trees if there is concern about subsidence. This involves removing their upper branches. If done too early in the year, it can deprive them of the food they need to get through winter and grow again the following year.

Mr Flinder said: "In more robust trees like plane trees, lime trees or horse chestnut they can bounce back the following year. But others can't and they're pollarded. It's not necessary, No other council in north London does it.

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"It's being done so Camden Council has a copper bottomed policy when it comes to trees and claims about subsidence. Yet we've actually found that broken drains are a cause," he said.

Statistics shown at the meeting on November 6 by Mr Flinder show the amount of claims against Camden was broadly in line with other boroughs.

He added that new trees aren't being looked after and watered enough. Mr Flinder also queried the council's claim that it plants 400 trees a year. He said 350 trees are cut down a year, and that 10 per cent of new trees planted usually fail. The town hall admitted to this newspaper that it had missed its own targets last year.

Mr Flinder said: "In some areas, such as Redlington and Frognal, have lost 40pc of their trees in 8 or 9 years, that's down to planning. What we need is a look at how we plant thousands of trees. We need to look at how these are planted and how they are looked after. This situation is untenable."

A Camden Council spokesperson said it is developing a "tree planting strategy" that will be presented next year.

They said: "The council only pollards trees where there is a legal requirement or the tree is causing subsidence. The council's biennial pollarding programme for subsidence covers the majority of this work, which currently accounts for only 7pc of the 28,000 trees Camden maintains."

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