Letter: 'Camden’s tree policies should lean towards tree protection'

Bees feed from the blossom of a cherry tree in Buckingham Palace Gardens in central London.

A healthy, mature cherry tree in a Hampstead back garden is scheduled to be chopped down - Credit: PA Images

Community trees must be protected

Christine Garabedian, Hampstead, writes: 

This letter is a plea for all of us to put pressure on legislators to change the out-of-date current planning regulations and policies which allow the felling of precious trees in private gardens in our Conservation Area in Hampstead and beyond, on the grounds that they are not “visible” by the public, and therefore not worthy of a Tree Protection Order (TPO).

Camden Council’s Planning Team and Tree Officers are allowing the felling of this beautiful blossoming cherry tree in a rear garden in Hampstead, a Conservation Area, on the grounds that “it is not visible to the public” and therefore not worthy of a TPO.

It is a healthy, 12m high blossoming cherry tree, rated a ‘B’ category tree by an expert, who estimated that it has 50 years of life ahead of it.

I will mourn this tree when it is gone. The stated reason for the felling of this tree is “routine maintenance”. I quote from the planning application which states what will be done to it: “-section fell to ground level - grind out stump to 340mm below ground level (re-turfing+re-planting) - back fill hole using grinding arisings, remove excess from site.”

This tree now stands for all the other private trees at risk of being felled under the current regulations and policies. This beautiful living thing has given us so much joy over the years. It gives us privacy from the buildings across the rear gardens, provides pollen for bees, shelter and shade for birds and other living beings.

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The London mayor is committed to creating an urban forest in London, and to substantially increase tree cover. This is why the guidance and Camden’s tree policies should lean towards tree protection, and not tree destruction.

Furthermore, trees are a significant factor in reducing carbon in our atmosphere, and so every tree in Camden counts.

Local residents often do not realise that trees in private gardens are regularly felled, and too few objections are made to protect them, because the system and regulations are, in my opinion, deeply flawed. Many home-owners disregard the rules and there is often little that can be done to save trees from felling, even when home-owners do apply for planning permission in a Conservation Area.

Each one of us has a role to play in saving private trees. We must remain mindful of the destruction current rules and policies enable. We must all act individually to protect Nature, and to support new legislation to protect public and private trees at a time when human greed, selfishness and systemic ignorance continue to damage our environment and precious trees like the blossoming cherry tree which is now condemned.