Agenda item


To consider any requests received in accordance with Part 4, Section B, Paragraph 29 of the Council’s Constitution.


The Panel received a deputation from Dr Glenys Law on behalf of an organisation she represented called SHIFT. The deputation was in relation to an ongoing case in Queen’s Wood involving an adjacent property. The insurance company (AXA) acting for the owners of this property had submitted a compensation claim to the Council claiming that trees in the wood had caused damage to the property in question. In response to the insurance claim, the Council was seeking to remove four oaks trees from Queens Wood.


The deputation party put forward the following points in support of the deputation:

  • Engagement with the local community showed how important Queen’s Wood was to local people. 9,000 people signed a petition to Haringey asking for the 4 trees to be saved and a further 5,000 signed a petition to Axa.
  • Haringey felled more than twice as many trees as it planted over the last three years.
  • The property in question was a relatively new property which, it was suggested, had been squeezed into a plot adjacent to Queen’s Wood. It was built too close to the woodland and the fact that it was suffering subsidence was unsurprising. It was suggested that it was important to note the fact that the wood was there first. 
  • The deputation party felt a certain level of sympathy for the council and understood that it felt it had no choice but to cut down the trees due to the potential cost implications.
  • Ancient woodlands were irreplaceable and no amount of new planting could make up for their loss. The four trees were vital components of the ancient woodland ecosystem; a home to protected species such as bats, hobbies and stag beetles, as well as an array of flora. The ecosystem had developed over centuries and would be seriously damaged if the tress were removed.
  • In regards to the value of these four mature trees, it was suggested that they were an almost free asset in contrast to new tree planting. It was suggested that the 4 mature oaks in Queen’s Wood captured about 240 pounds of carbon a year. In contrast, Haringey would need to plant 2,400 new saplings to mitigate the carbon cost of felling these 4 oaks.
  • The deputation party also raised concerns that felling the four trees in question would not guarantee a solution to the subsidence problem. It was suggested that heave or landslip could easily occur without the retaining influence of the root network.


The Deputation party requested that:


1) The Council should negotiate with Axa to help protect this ancient woodland in line with their stated environmental goals. Axa were paying for a second independent engineer’s report which, hopefully would come up with an engineering solution, such as underpinning or a root barrier that did not involve the felling of the trees.


2) Haringey urgently needed to implement a proper tree strategy. There had been no approved tree policy by Haringey Council for nearly a decade. It was suggested that the existing draft Tree Strategy should be updated, approved and implemented to provide a reference point for future planning and operational decisions. The borough had a new conservation officer who was currently working on producing a biodiversity plan for the borough. The Panel should lobby for this to include trees and ancient woodland.


3) Haringey, unlike many other London Boroughs, is not signed up to the London Tree Officer’s Association Joint Mitigation Protocol which included a formula known as CAVAT (Capital Asset Valuation of Amenity Trees).  CAVAT calculations applied to the four threatened Queen’s Wood oaks suggested that there value would be assessed at around£200,000.


4) Having a tree protection officer in place would allow the Council to have in place someone to review all planning applications and insurance claims. It was suggested that hundreds of trees in the borough were lost every year due to the lack of scrutiny of planning applications.



The following was noted in discussion of the deputation:

a.    The Panel sought clarification about the outcome that was hoped for through negotiation with Axa. In response, Glenys set out that the Council needed to consider the importance of the trees and that the starting position should be that the trees needed to remain and that alternative options should be explored. It was noted that Axa had commissioned an independent engineers’ report to look into possible alternative options and it was advocated that an alternative engineering solution should be pursued. It was also suggested that the Council should also request a breakdown of the costs for the claim.

b.    In response to a question around the extent to which the Cabinet Member had been engaged on the issue, the deputation party advised that she had been down to visit the site and was broadly supportive of the cause. The Panel sought further clarification from the Cabinet Member as to what conversations she had with officers on the issue. The Chair agreed to follow this up in writing with the Cabinet Member. (Action: Chair). 

c.     The Panel questioned whether in not felling the trees now, the Council would simply be creating a bigger problem for itself at a later date. In response, it was suggested that the engineers report would set out the extent to which the trees would grow further and the depth of the foundations required at the property to prevent subsidence. It was suggested that there was a depth below which tree roots did not grow. One possible solution advocated was the use of root barriers, which released copper into the soil to divert root growth. In response to a follow up, it was acknowledged that part of the problem was that alternative solutions could cost more money.

d.    The Panel noted that street trees was a scheduled agenda item on its next meeting and it was agreed that an update on Queens Wood would be incorporated into the street trees item.  (Action: Clerk).