Tree experts have defended Islington Council, which was heavily criticised for cutting down one of the borough’s most famous trees.
It cut down the tree, known as the Barnsbury beech, because it had the fungal disease Meripilus giganteus.
The council undertook two surveys and despite one of these recommending a “wait and see” approach, it acted immediately to remove the tree (HW, 3 November).
Tree officers have written to Horticulture Week to say that Islington was right. Jim Keech, tree officer at Monmouthshire County Council, said trees hit by the disease are likely to fall. He added: “The assertion that people are just covering their backs and shifting liability… is crass and unfair to staff working in local government.
“Islington Council should be applauded for taking a decision in the interests of public safety.”
Alan Filey, principal forestry consultant at Jacobs UK in Kent, said: “A consultant or local authority inspector cannot ignore the blindingly obvious evidence in front of them, particularly when that evidence is supported by accepted standards and historical data.”
Steve Fuller, chairman of the London Tree Officers’ Association, warned: “People die every year from falling trees. If tree officers did not make these tough decisions, these deaths would inevitably increase.” He added that decisions were not taken lightly and that tree officers had to concentrate on saving life.
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