Main image courtesy Jo Syz

As reported previously, Haringey is currently a front line for urban tree protection as local residents campaign to save a 100 year-old plane tree caught up in a battle between insurance companies and the council.

Insurers have a long-established policy of ‘implicating’ trees in subsidence claims and passing costs onto the public by holding councils responsible.

Campaigners wrote in June asking for a meeting with Colm Holmes, CEO of Allianz (one of the insurers involved), but it was only after a protest outside their London office on the 12th July that he wrote back, claiming that Allianz always operates “in a climate-friendly way” and it was a “last-resort” to force Haringey Council to remove the tree after exploring all other options.

Tree protest at Allianz 14th July
Film by kind permission of Jo Syz

According to campaigners another 18 trees are under threat on Oakfield Road alone, with around 200 across the borough, while the vital importance of mature trees for street cooling, carbon absorption and flood prevention becomes ever clearer.

Local MP Catherine West has written to the insurers and council asking for a pause while all options are considered, and to the Association of British Insurers to ask for comment on tree felling policy in light of climate breakdown.

Expert arboriculturist Christopher Neilan, who developed the CAVAT value system for trees, has written to the campaign saying:

In the case of the Stroud Green Plane it is in the public interest to find a solution that enables the tree and its neighbours to be retained as essential natural assets, for the public good.

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