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I've moved away from Crouch End now, entirely out of Haringey. But I still get these emails, and I've been following the story of these oak trees quite closely. 

It's reassuring to see the LibDems still jumping on yet another Haringey bashing bandwagon almost entirely without thought.

When I did live in Crouch End I had a garden, which was visited from time to time by jays. I've been told that these colourful acorn eating corvids  bring acorns from afar and place them to come back to. Certainly there were always 6 or so oaks growing in my garden, which I attributed to jays. I also pruned them (the oaks) to keep them of bonsai proportions.

Clearly something like this has happened near the foundations of 105, Wood Vale. But the oak saplings, self-seeded or planted by Jays, perhaps, have not been kept to bonsai proportions. They are undermining the foundations. 

Cut them down I say, and let others grow elsewhere. It'll take a little while but it'll be fine.

And the author of the petition is more than a little disingenuous. She only wants a "stay of execution". So she can change the law to guarantee the demolition of the house. It's almost tempting to start the petition calling for more urgent action in favour of the foundations.


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Dear Adrian,

Haringey council have proposed the felling of four mature oak trees in Queen's Wood, Muswell Hill. This is due to the threat of an insurance claim from a company that covers a nearby house.
Trees are so important to many parts of our environment. They capture carbon helping to alleviate climate change, they provide habitat to wildlife and they help stop soil erosion.
We are asking that the council pauses any immediate planned felling so that some more time is given to investigate all the options. This will ensure all parties are properly engaged and consulted. These trees have been here for decades and cannot be recovered once removed, so it is really important different possibilities are explored. Removing these trees without this further engagement and investigation could set a dangerous precedent for the future of other trees in Queen's Wood near to properties.
It is not a foregone conclusion that this decision will go ahead, in the past a tree on Broadlands Road was stopped from being felled by public pressure. That is why we are asking you to sign this petition started by a local resident Glenys Law, and to email the council leader, the cabinet member and the officer in charge of trees, their emails are included below.

It is so good to see the community rally behind something this important and hopefully, with your help, we can ensure this is looked at again.
Sign the petition
Please email:

Leader of the Council, Joe Ejiofor: joe.ejiofor@haringey.gov.uk
Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Kirsten Hearn: kirsten.hearn@haringey.gov.uk
Tree & Nature Conservation Manager, Alex Fraser: alex.fraser@haringey.gov.uk

Best wishes,
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Cllr Scott Emery
Spokesperson for the Environment | Haringey Liberal Democrats
scott.emery@haringeylibdems.org | www.haringeylibdems.org
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Tags: oaks

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While I no longer hold the brief for Haringey LibDems as I once did, I am not convinced that, the LibDems [are] still jumping on yet another Haringey bashing bandwagon almost entirely without thought.

When it comes to trees, foundations and subsidence, Insurance companies seem to have a rule of one-size fits all approach.

I do not know the details of the oaks but I can relate a story closer to home that has parallels.

Some years ago, a neighbour made an insurance claim for subsidence and work was performed on the foundations. The insurance company would not reinsure unless the Council felled a nearby tree, that was held to be responsible for the subsidence.

Other neighbours expressed concern at the loss of the tree and a conference was held to which the Council tree officer was invited. I was probably not alone in respecting his professional approach. They like trees. They try to keep them where possible.

As the removal of water-attracting roots can lead to either heave or further subsidence, sometimes tree-removal can do more harm to a nearby building than good.

The council took a stand on behalf of local residents, the insurance company was stood up to and the tree lived to flutter its leaves another day.

And indeed in this case the Haringey tree officer has resisted the felling of 5 trees, including these 4 and another much more mature. As a compromise, and very possibly the best option, in the light of the heave, etcetera arising from injudicious felling, four relatively immature trees were sacrificed and the 5th mature tree was saved.

Not only do insurance companies have a one size fits all solution, but also the tree huggers.

A correspondent on Facebook has provided this email from Haringey's...

  • 105 Wood Vale has suffered from subsidence on a number of occasions and works were undertaken previously to increase foundation levels beneath the rear extension. New damage was recorded in 2017 and the Council were notified of this as part of a new claim in 2019. The current damage is throughout the whole building and not restricted to the extension. The reported likely costs of £270,000 are made up of underpinning the main property, superstructure repairs, relocation costs and disbursements. Further legal costs are also likely.
    All the relevant evidence (engineering and arboricultural reports, geotechnical and monitoring data) has been provided to support the claim. Live Oak tree roots were recovered from the trial pits, adjacent to the foundations, at a depth of 2.6m. The monitoring of the building showed seasonal movement, which is indicative of the influence of tree roots on soil moisture.
    They have identified 5 Oak trees near to the property and requested they all are felled to mitigate the claim. Both Clare and I have assessed each tree, although all trees have a value, we considered one of them to be of much more importance that the other 4. Clare has responded to the claimants stating we would permit the felling of only four of the Oak trees, which are closest to the property. To date, we have not had a response. Oak trees are considered a high risk in terms of causing tree root damage to buildings, they have a high water demand and have been found to send roots to greater depths than other trees.
    Unfortunately, current case law on tree root claims shows the courts are more sympathetic to the protection of private property rights and the owners’ reasonable enjoyment of their land without interference, than they are towards protecting trees and recognising their aesthetic, social and ecological value within the urban environment. If the council do not take any action and the case goes to court, we will be found to have been negligent as we have failed to abate or prevent this nuisance from occurring.
    We are not in a position to change the current process we follow in defending tree root claims, without there being legal ramifications and liability for the Council.
    I acknowledge that felling the 4 trees will have a localised impact on this part of the wood, but none of them are mature specimens with large spreading crowns. Trees have been felled in Queens wood and also Coldfall and Bluebell woods previously where they have been implicated in causing tree root damage.
    It is very frustrating as officers to have to sanction the felling of healthy trees for damage to buildings, especially at the moment, when there is a wider acceptance of their value in combating climate change and increasing biodiversity.
    I would completely understand if the Friends group wanted to take this matter further and would welcome a wider discussion on possible changes to the way we currently manage tree root claims.
    Alex Fraser
    Tree & Nature Conservation Manager
    Tel: 020 8489 5657
    Email: alex.fraser@haringey.gov.uk


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