Council backs Blanche Nevile school after row over tree-felling in Muswell Hill

Tree campaigners including Michael Brookes (right) in front of Blanche Nevile School in Muswell Hill

Tree campaigners including Michael Brookes (right) in front of Blanche Nevile School in Muswell Hill. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

A school for deaf children in Muswell Hill has defended plans to cut down three “dangerous” trees on the border of its land.

Contractors for Blanche Nevile School in Burlington Road – off Tetherdown – began work to remove the trees, which it said were “dead or dying” on August 27, but after removing two of them, a group of protestors from neighbouring roads called for the work to be scrapped.

Michael Brookes – who lives in the adjacent Eastwood Road – started a petition calling on interim headteacher Heulwen Rees to change tack.

He and other neighbours held a vigil to prevent contractor access to the trees on August 27.

READ MORE: Queen’s Wood oak trees get four week reprieve in insurance fightBut now Haringey Council has confirmed it backs the school’s decision to remove the three trees after an independent report said they were “deemed to be dead or dying and dangerous”. The trees in question do not, the town hall said, have Tree Protection Orders (TPOs) on them.

A council spokesperson said: “Of course, wherever possible, we would want to avoid any trees in our borough being removed, however, the wellbeing of the pupils, staff and school community has to be the priority.

“We will liaise with the school and advise about any future works.”

Local MP Catherine West (Lab, Hornsey and Wood Green) “made represetations” to clarify the situation, and said it was vital that there were “green lungs” in neighbourhoods.

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Michael told this newspaper: “These oaks were part of some planted twenty years ago as a planning condition when the school moved the car park.

“The first we knew is when they began work.” He made clear that all of those opposed to tree-felling at the school recognised the school’s value and the “wonderful work” it does.

In a statement, Ms Rees, said the school had taken care to ensure it had permission to fell the trees and added: “The school has a duty of care to ensure the safety of its students, staff and the local area. Only works necessary to remove dangerous trees and to preserve and protect healthy trees have been, and will be, carried out.”