Islington Council must get to root of issue

The fight to protect Islington’s trees is not a new one (“Council is failing to protect our trees”, Viewpoints, January 27, 2011). From 2006-2010, Green councillor Katie Dawson fought to protect trees all over the borough. For example:

* Katie fought alongside local residents to prevent the felling of the beautiful avenue of ash trees in Drayton Park, Highbury. Sadly, the council went ahead and felled them because of supposed “health and safety” concerns about falling twigs and branches.

* In 2007, the council threatened to remove three mature horse chestnut trees at the Finsbury Leisure Centre. After a campaign by Councillor Dawson and footballers at the centre, the council agreed to X-ray the trees, which were found to be in good health and were saved.

* Later that year, the council allowed a developer to remove six mature London plane trees in Pentonville Road. The trees were cut down on a Sunday with no prior notice to residents. No enforcement action was ever taken despite our protests.

* A whole street of beautiful trees at St John’s Villas were threatened with felling by the council because of health and safety concerns about “killer pears”. The council only backed down after Katie and residents mounted a media campaign.

Islington lost more trees in the period 2002-2007 than any other inner-city borough in London – 1,519 in total. Now there is a chance for the council to do something about it.

Earlier this month Boris Johnson launched RE:LEAF London, a campaign to plant an extra two million trees by 2025 in specified “priority planting areas”, including one here in Islington at Caledonian Road and King’s Cross.

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A grant of up to �100,000, for the planting of up to 400 trees, is available to the council to plant trees here.

This year is the last year of grants for these street trees. We urge the council to make the most of the scheme – and to start protecting our existing trees properly! – Emma Dixon, Islington Green Party.