Peace breaks out over Wanstead trees

Two weeks ago, we reported how Wansteadium reader Pete Daly was starting a campaign against the planned felling of 11 horse chestnut trees on St Mary’s Avenue. Pete now writes:

I met with Peter Marshall on Saturday morning. Peter is (I believe) the chief Arboriculturalist at Redbridge. Peter provided me with a copy of his report on the trees in the avenue. Each tree has been examined and classified by age and general condition. We walked the entire length of the avenue stopping at each condemned tree in turn and Peter described and showed me in great detail why each tree needed to be felled. I have to admit that the condemned trees are in a very poor state and I can understand the council’s concerns. As Peter said if they are aware that a tree is in a poor state and subsequently a part of the tree falls on something or someone then the council are liable. Peter did say that there were a number of trees that were on the borderline but they had been reprieved to limit the impact on the appearance of St Mary’s Avenue.
There was much that Peter told me that I had not previously appreciated, most significant of all was that all trees have a natural lifespan (obvious when you think about it) and that the average lifespan of a white Horse Chestnut is 100 – 150 years. Most of the trees in the Avenue are in that age range.
Another thing that Peter told me was that the trees were originally planted too close together resulting in some trees being out competed for moisture, nutrients and light by other, lager, tress resulting in smaller, weaker more disease prone trees.
Of course there is the problem of the leaf boring moth which has been attacking the trees for some years now contributing to the general poor condition of some of the trees.
When everything is taken into account I do not believe that Redbridge Council are overreacting to the problem. I do not believe that this is a case of Health and Safety gone mad.
The work to fell the trees has been postponed until all the concerns that have been raised by both the public and local councillors have been addressed. Once the trees have been felled Peter plans to consult with all interested parties on what trees will be planted to replace those that have been removed. As Peter said there is little point just replacing the trees with more white horse chestnuts as the leaf boring moth will severely impact on their growth.
Peter is a real tree enthusiast. It was good of him to spend so much of his time on a Saturday morning talking to me. He actually said that he likes people like me who care about the trees. Mostly he gets requests from people who want trees cut down because they are dropping sap in their Cars!
I will be sad to see the trees go but at least I have challenged the decision and now fully understand the reasoning behind the decision.
Thank you for your coverage of my brief campaign.


Reprieve for St Mary’s Avenue trees

Redbridge Council has told Wansteadium that it is giving a temporary reprieve to the horse chestnut trees on St Mary’s Avenue which have been earmarked for the axe. Wansteadium highlighted this issue last week.

A statement from the council reads:

We understand residents are concerned about the planned felling of 11 trees in St Mary’s Avenue and due to the high level of interest we have put this work on hold. Discussions will be held with local ward members to explain the reasons for removal in more detail and a replanting proposal. However, the trees will still need to be removed to ensure the safety of local residents and road users as they are on a busy main road. This is due to internal decay identified following an inspection by one of the Council’s Arboricultural officers. If any local residents have any further concerns we would be happy to discuss this further. Please email

Resident Pete Daly, who has started a campaign to save the trees, is going to watch matters closely, and in particular is wanting to know if the plan would be to replant with new or mature trees. Councillors are due to discuss the replanting plan this month.

The axeman cometh to St Mary’s Avenue, Wanstead

Trouble is brewing in St Mary’s Avenue where notices have been attached to some of the distinctive horse chestnut trees announcing that 11 of them are to be chopped down.

Wansteadium reader Pete Daly is launching a campaign against the felling, and has written to Redbridge council demanding a moratorium while further consultation takes place. The notices warn, however, that the cutting could take place at any time in the next four weeks, and is due to the trees being “structurally unsound due to internal decay”.

Pete Daly plans to drum up support among fellow residents and has written the following e-mail to the council:

I would like to express my extreme concern about the proposed barbarity of cutting down 11 of the magnificent Horse Chestnut trees in St Mary’s Avenue in Wanstead. Removing this number of trees will destroy the natural beauty of this road for many generations. This must not go ahead without public consultation

I appreciate, of course, the danger to the public of falling branches or indeed trees but these trees are far from dead and in reality represent no threat to the public. Being partially hollow is a natural state for a tree and a high percentage of the trees in the UK would have to be felled if the same principal that you are applying were to be applied Nationwide

I would like to request a moratorium on this work until 3 things can take place
1. Public consultation of at least the residents of St Mary’s avenue
2. A second opinion from an independent arborologist is sought
3. Investigations into the possibility of purchasing an insurance policy that would indemnify the council from all losses arising from falling branches / trees on St Mary’s Avenue

I am sure that the residents of St Mary’s will be more than happy to meet any costs incurred in these three options to protect the beauty of their road. In the past I have been advised by the council that I cannot cut down trees in my garden as they are legally protected in some way. Surely the same legal protection must cover these magnificent specimens?

Wansteadium has contacted the council for comment and to ask what its attitude to Pete Daly’s requests would be.

Earlier this year, we reported that within Snaresbrook and Wanstead wards, 104 trees were cut down after the 2010 annual survey found theym dead, vandalised or structurally unsound. Those trees were then replaced. That work, however was due to have been completed by the end of March, so the St Mary’s Avenue felling appears to be in addition to that.

What’s going on with Wanstead tree-chopping?

Noticed the alarmingly large number of street trees in Wanstead and Snaresbrook which have been chopped down and bound in red and white tape, as if to stem the bleeding? If you have, you’re not alone. One Wanstead-resident tweeted last week:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/nutterlane/status/37985874050285570″]

So what’s going on? Wansteadium asked Redbridge Borough Council which helpfully explained thus:

The 2010 annual safety inspection of the 2,621 Highway trees in Wanstead and Snaresbrook identified 104 dead, vandalised or structurally unsound trees. Work to fell, remove stumps and then plant replacement trees, is programmed for completion by 31 March 2011.

In other words, it appears this is not a story about council cuts.

Today’s nature lesson for Wanstead

Beautiful example of mistletoe growing in the branches of a tree in Charnwood Drive. So today’s nature lesson for Wanstead is about the parasitic nature of mistletoe, how it can be spread in bird poo from tree to tree, and how in some legends, Christ’s cross was made of mistletoe but shrivelled up after the crucifixion. (All of this courtesy of Wikipedia, so may be quite fictional.)

View Larger Map