Quick-witted Hackney residents save trees as developers rev up chainsaws
PUBLISHED: 11:09 29 May 2013 | UPDATED: 19:20 29 May 2013
Vigilante Hackney residents stepped in to block tree surgeons armed with chainsaws from felling huge trees in the Navarino Grove conservation area last week, as a councillor rushed to secure an order to save them.
Two Sycamores were chopped down by workers acting on behalf of developer Fairview last Tuesday, before Hackney Council implemented tree protection orders (TPO) to save the other oak, willow and ash trees backing onto the railway line in the Navarino Grove conservation area in Hackney.
According to residents, Iceni Homes had been working on behalf of Fairview to consult with them about plans to build nine townhouses in the back garden of a property in the cul-de-sac.
But last Tuesday, just as one resident Suzi Ewing had sent an email to Hackney Council requesting protection orders for the trees there, she heard chainsaws start up and cottoned on that they were about to be hacked down.
She ran around the neighbourhood trying to mount an opposition, and five of her neighbours climbed into the garden where the tree surgeons were at work.
Their presence meant the workers had to stop chopping down the trees for health and safety reasons, so they alerted police the residents were trespassing. But police officers were sympathetic to the cause, and within an hour the TPOs were in place.
Resident Fiona Macrae said: “Fairview were rushing to get as many trees down as they could before we got the tree protection order in place, their behaviour is disgusting in a conservation area.
“I think they were counting on people being at work.
She added: “The large sycamore was more than 20 years old and acted as a screen from the flats on the other side of the railway line, they can now look directly into our gardens and houses.
“Not to mention it helped block the noise from the railway line, which is why the trees were planted there in the first place.”
Hackney Central ward councillor Ben Hayhurst was delighted the TPO was put in place so quickly but sad that some trees were lost.
“From being alerted about the chainsaw at 12.15, the TPO was made within four hours, which is very impressive from Hackney Council.
“I’m not sure a high court injunction would have been turned around so quickly,” he added.
The land was previously common land which housed tennis courts before the Second World War, which were then converted into allotments.
Chopping down any more trees of the protected trees on site now would be a criminal act with a potential £20,000 fine.
A spokeswoman for Fairview Homes said they did not want to comment.