Council claim it will cost £1m to leave 120-year-old tree standing

Council locked in bitter row with residents over 120-year-old tree the authority wants to chop down say it could cost £1M to leave it standing

  • Haringey Council wants to fell the 120-year-old tree over subsidence claims
  • But neighbours and activists have launched a bid to save the ancient plane 
  • North London council now estimate it could cost them £1m in insurance claims 

A north London council locked in a bitter row with residents over the future of a 120-year-old tree claim it could cost them £1million to leave it standing.

Haringey Council wants to fell the ancient plane over claims from insurers that it is causing subsidence to two homes on Oakfield Road in Stroud Green, north London.

However, neighbours and campaigners – fronted by Haringey Tree Protectors in court – have launched a valiant bid to save the huge tree, with some even camping in the branches for almost a year.

The row ramped up last weekend when a dozen balaclava-clad security guards stormed and fortified the tree with scaffolding and a watchtower in the middle of the night.

When MailOnline went to the scene, residents described the action by the council as ‘abhorrent’ and ‘grotesque’.

In a major win for the campaigners, the tree was given a stay of execution last week when a court postponed a decision on its future – temporarily blocking the council’s bid to axe the tree.

Haringey council claim it could cost them £1million to leave a 120-year-old tree (pictured) in north London standing

Neighbours and campaigners (pictured) – fronted by Haringey Tree Protectors in court – have launched a valiant bid to save the huge tree

Andrew Brenner, a homeowner affected by the alleged subsidence, emerged at the 11th hour to save it by lodging an injunction at Clerkenwell County Court. It was upheld by Judge Dan Squires.

The next hearing will be at the High Court later this month, where the tree’s future will be decided.

Haringey Council estimates it could be forced to pay up to £1million in insurance claims if the tree is left in its current state.

READ MORE: Historic 120-year-old tree saved from being chopped down by a London council at the eleventh hour  

A spokesman for the authority said today: ‘We have been fighting to save this tree since the original claim was made in 2015 and had no choice other than to look to remove it before the judge’s decision [on Thursday].

‘If the tree remains, the latest estimations tell us the council risks facing an insurance claim of up to £1million, which would be better spent on delivering key frontline services.

‘The judgement in the High Court to take this to judicial review shows the magnitude of this decision and the challenge faced by boroughs up and down the country with the same dilemma.

‘It is wrong that councils are having to make the choice between saving a tree and paying huge sums of taxpayers’ money or felling a tree, so the insurers do not have to pay for tree damage cover.’

Since the judge’s decision to block the tree being felled, the security guards have been pictured taking the scaffolding down.

Campaigners say they have faced ‘abhorrent’ action from Haringey council after balaclava-clad security guards (pictured) secured the tree in the middle of the night 

A protective wall was built around the tree with 24-hour guards, fences, scaffolding and a viewing tower (pictured)

Pictures obtained by MailOnline show security staff taking down the scaffolding after an 11th hour injunction was held up

The spokesman added: ‘We understand that some residents on Oakfield Road have been concerned by the scaffolding erected around the tree and the presence of security guards over the last few days.

‘These measures were to secure possession of the tree, prevent any unauthorised occupation, or anyone putting themselves at risk of injury. This was to ensure we were able to fell the tree in a safe manner.

‘In view of the decision by the judge, it is now right these additional safety and security measures are removed.

‘We will not take any further action until the court makes a final decision.’

The row over the tree began last year, when insurance company Allianz blamed it for being the primary cause of subsidence to a property and demanded the council chop it down and admit liability for £400,000.

Mr Brenner, who lodged the injunction, lives in a home on Oakfield Road that insurance firm Aviva/Allianz claims is causing subsidence to his house dating back to the 1990s.

A spokesman for the insurance company Allianz said: ‘This is a complex and ongoing case and we await the decision of the court.

‘Sustainability is a business priority for Allianz and we’ve not taken any decisions lightly.

‘We’ve been diligent in our investigations to find the best solution to solve the subsidence problem and are working closely with industry experts and the Financial Ombudsman Service.’

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