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Petition to protect trees in Highgate nature reserve attracts 1,700 signatures

PUBLISHED: 18:25 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:54 22 July 2020

One of the oak trees which is about to be cut down. Picture: Submitted by Glenys Law

One of the oak trees which is about to be cut down. Picture: Submitted by Glenys Law

Archant

Nearly 2,000 people are fighting to save four trees from being felled in Highgate.

Haringey Council is planning to cut down four oak trees in Queen’s Wood, a nature reserve near Highgate Wood, which insurer Axa has found to be causing damage to the foundation of a neighbouring property.

Its loss adjuster has requested the trees be removed.

Haringey Council said it believes they are less than 50 years old and pointed out it protected a fifth, older tree.

It says legal costs could mount to at least £270,000 if no action is taken, and has promised to replace the lost specimens this autumn.

However, 1,770 people have now signed a petition asking for the decision to be reversed.

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“No account has been taken of the amenity value of these trees, their value to the human community or the habitat they provide for countless birds, insects, etc,” the petition argues.

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Glenys Law, chair of Crouch End Open Space, started the petition: “At the moment it is only too easy for insurers to claim that a tree is causing subsidence, and often it is true, but this does not mean that the tree should be felled. Often a regular pruning is sufficient to keep them under control.”

She questioned whether new laws should be introduced: “It is reported that where this has been done a typical tree might be valued at £25,000.

“If insurers were obliged to pay that sum to homeowners or councils when they demand it to be felled, then policies would soon change.”

A signatory of the petition, Marina Sanchez, added: “I love the woods, I love the trees and we need them to survive.”

Cllr Kirsten Hearn, Haringey Council’s cabinet member for climate change and sustainability, said she does not want the trees to be felled, but previous crown reduction and underpinning works have been unsuccessful.

She said: “The council has a huge hole in its budget due to actions it has taken to protect residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. This follows 10 years of austerity during which council budgets have been slashed.

“We simply cannot afford to pay out £270,000 to the homeowner’s insurance company. I am truly sorry, but the trees have to go.”

View the petition at tinyurl.com/y9k4hw9l

Axa was contacted for comment.

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