“Stop killing our trees”

Residents fight to save “mature healthy” trees from council’s axe

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Residents of Kelmscott Gardens are up in arms at the council’s decision to cut down what they believe to be mature healthy trees which they claim the council plans to continue doing in other parts of the borough

One longstanding resident said “The council is investing heavily in green initiatives and trying very hard to improve the local environment, reduce air pollution and encourage recycling etc. Perhaps you may want to read your council's Environmental Department Performance Plan 2006/07. These actions I strongly support and I have been happy to pay increasing council tax to support such initiatives. I therefore find it totally incomprehensible that the very same council is happy to chop down mature healthy trees.”

He continued “This is total hypocrisy and crass irresponsibility. It reflects a total lack of "joined up thinking" and I can only surmise that this is localised departmental thinking which has not been fully thought through at council level. I urge you to step back from the fine details of your proposals and look at the bigger picture. This decision is wrong on moral, political, economic and environmental grounds. No doubt your council has many Tree Preservation Orders in place elsewhere.”

In response to calls from local council Eugene White to explain this matter, Gavin Simmons, Principal Arboricultural Officer Environment Services Department replied “I understand this is work is part of a landscaping scheme being undertaken by Groundwork West London on behalf of Housing. I have been asked for advice and also attended site meetings with Groundwork, Housing and representatives of both tenants and residents of Ashchurch Grove. I have no objections to the works agreed; removal of a diseased Laburnum. The removal of two small self-sown Sycamores next to the wall and removal of self-sown Elder bushes. None of these trees would be suitable candidates for Preservation Orders even if they were growing on private property.”

Eugene White stated “It is apparent from this reply that the relevant departments within the council are coordinating on the tree planning of Kelmscott Gardens. A paper on the H&F borough policy on trees was presented and discussed at the Cleaner and Greener Scrutiny committee in July 2006. It is a cohesive and professional approach to the diverse range of issues, needs and views in the borough.”

However, the situation is far from being resolved in the eyes of residents who are now seeking tree preservation orders. One resident stated “When I spoke to the tree officer earlier today (Monday 15th January) he confirmed his understanding was that the 2 large (they are 60ft high!!!) Sycamores were being left alone. This was also no mention of any work to these trees in the letter from Groundworks dated 14th December. First mention of chopping down these trees was by letter received at the end of last week. We were given no chance to respond and work started at 9.00am this morning.”

The dispute continues.


January 15, 2007