Thames Water under fire for Highgate tree felling

Three trees have been cut down to build parking

Three trees have been cut down to build parking - Credit: Sharon Lytton

A Highgate conservation group has challenged the cutting down of three trees in Tile Kiln Lane reservoir to make way for parking.

Thames Water removed three sycamore trees and some brambles to build parking for two vans for workers using the site. Part of a boundary wall has also been taken down for vehicle access. Residents say the move will harm the area's natural wildlife. 

The works were authorised under permitted development, and so did not require planning permission. A planning notice was lodged by Thames Water two years ago for the removal of one tree.  

Cllr Bob Hare, from Highgate Conservation Area Advisory Committee (HCAAC), said: “Thames Water said they would be removing one tree here, so it's disappointing to hear that in fact three trees have been felled.  

“Also, there has been much wider disruption than necessary of areas where owls, bats and much other wildlife have benefited till now from the lack of disturbance.  

“Thames Water along with other 'statutory undertakers' have many rights to carry out works under 'permitted development' rules, but the assumption is that they will act responsibly.  

“I hope Thames Water will in future be better custodians of the natural resources on all of their sites.” 

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Highgate resident Sharon Lytton said the felling was a “destruction” of natural woodland, and asked why workers couldn’t continue to park in Tile Kiln Lane or Winchester Road. 

“This site was a place of special peace and flourishing and now at least half of it is a wreck – all for a parking lot," she said. 

“In an exceedingly fragile world Thames Water has got its priorities absolutely wrong.” 

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “This reservoir is a critical part of our drinking water supply network and its vital our engineers can access it quickly and safely without driving around looking for parking spaces on surrounding roads.  

“The addition of the small parking area on our site was approved by Haringey Council as permitted development and we’ve done what we can to disturb as little of the vegetation as possible, removing three medium sized sycamore trees and some brambles.  

"We take our responsibilities to the environment extremely seriously and in the last five years have invested £6.5 million in environmental and community focused projects throughout our region.”