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Chainsaw massacre: A review of London's street trees

1 May 2007

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Our report reveals that up to 2,000 London street trees have been given the chop in the past five years, condemned by usually unwarranted subsidence claims.

In some boroughs up to 40 per cent of trees removed have been due to insurance claims. Yet the Assembly’s Environment Committee heard that barely one per cent of these claims were probably justified. A survey showed that, over the past five years, 40 per cent of the 325 trees removed in Hackney, 16 per cent of 1,500 trees in Brent and ten per cent of the 600 trees in Camden have been removed because of subsidence claims. The report highlights an urgent need for action from local authorities, landlords, developers and residents to increase the number of street trees as part of the battle against climate change.

It identifies measures to maintain and protect the capital’s trees, including:

  • Insurance companies must provide better quality investigations with nationally recognised guidance to avoid pointless subsidence claims
  • Developers should include broadleaf tree planting and maintenance in the design and planning of new developments
  • Borough street tree data must be maintained and updated to allow for effective monitoring of London’s treescape
  • Best practice on community engagement, funding, planting, maintenance and protection of street trees should be drawn together into a ‘London tree survival guide’

The report calls for London boroughs to explore funding and sponsorship from private developers through planning agreements to meet the cost of maintaining trees.