Hackney's Happy Man Tree could be felled ‘imminently’
- Credit: Friends of the Happy Man Tree
Campaigners fear Hackney’s beloved Happy Man Tree will be chopped down this week after legal action was taken to remove the protestors.
Berkeley Homes plans to fell a tree near The Happy Man pub as part of The Woodberry Down Estate regeneration, which will see more than 5,500 new homes, community facilities and public spaces built on the site.
The plans hit headlines this summer when protesters decided to 'occupy’ the tree and block the project.
However, in June, a High Court judge banned the protest as part of a court injunction, and anyone found protecting the 150-year-old London plane, protesting near it or inciting others to do so faces prison time and fines.
The council and developer Berkeley Homes could have felled the tree as early as Monday morning after the injunction became active on December 13. But so far, it has been spared.
A Tree Repossession Order was placed on December 11, a move which campaigners believe was taken to hinder legal action to save it.
A Hackney Council spokesperson told the Gazette “the safe removal of the tree” will provide space for hundreds of homes and 175 new trees on the Woodberry Down Estate Regeneration project.
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The tree was first ordered to be felled in May this year, sparking a petition with 27,000 signatures, and as a result, it was voted Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year.
Campaign group Friends of the Happy Man Tree said it will continue to camp out at the tree this week.
“This will be a devastating loss for the local community, as well as the nation as a whole,” a statement from the group said.
“[We] do not believe this is the end. It is just the beginning of the fight for climate justice at the local level, and the group will be … continuing to campaign on behalf of trees in Hackney.”
A spokesperson for Berkeley Homes said: “Whilst it is never easy to lose a well-liked tree – following a thorough, transparent and balanced debate, Berkeley, Hackney Council and the Woodberry Down Community Organisation (WDCO) all support the local planning authority’s decision.”
Friends of the Happy Man Tree recently created a community Christmas card which took the form of a festive mural painted behind the tree.
The groups says if the tree is felled as planned, it will be the second Tree of the Year to be lost in 2020.
In June, the CubbingtonTree, a 250-year-old wild pear tree in Warwickshire, was cut down to make way for the planned high-speed railway HS2.