Brent Council said:
In response to a petition concerning two oak trees in Brondesbury (since closed):
Brent Council does not own the two oak trees in question. They are on Housing Association land and therefore privately owned. We do care greatly about trees in Brent which is why we placed a Tree Preservation Order on the two oaks in 2006. This requires the owners to seek the council’s permission to carry out any works on them.
An insurance company has provided robust evidence that work is needed on these trees to stabilise a nearby property that has subsidence issues. They have applied to remove one of the oak tree which is believed to be causing the issues.
In adjudicating these decisions, we always balance the important contribution of trees with the serious damage they can cause to people’s homes. It is simply not true to say that the council is destroying these trees – we are reviewing the evidence that has been presented to us by a third party.
We believe that there is evidence to suggest that the tree is causing subsidence and if we refuse the application we could be asked to pay significant compensation. This is not in the best interests of residents, at a time when budgets are tight and money is needed for the maintenance of other trees around the borough.
We have committed to working with residents to improve the information we share about upcoming tree works. However, as these trees are on private land, it is for the owner to keep nearby residents updated.
The author of the petition told Wembley Matters this morning:
The news of the threat to the trees spread like wildfire over the weekend with many rushing to support the petition on social media. In this case a mistake was made and I apologise for a misleading post but the degree of passion that Brent residents demonstrated for protecting their trees is truly heartening.I understand there are some mistakes in my understanding of the situation pointed out to me by the Tree Protection Officer, Lawrence Usherwood, who has worked hard to protect these trees, within the framework of options he has available to him.Naming the Council as the sole decision maker was erroneous.My hope had been to highlight that the current way that subsidence claims are dealt with mean we are limited in how we can adapt to new priorities of ecological emergency. I did not want to cast blame on any individuals within the council – which is how it has been seen. And do not have a good understanding of the details of the case.