Tooting tree felling costs topped £80,000

The bill for the controversial felling of an avenue of horse chestnut trees has been more than £80,000, the London Borough of Wandsworth has revealed.

The council said it cost £83,348 to clear the 51 trees in Tooting Common’s Chestnut Avenue.

Wandsworth claims the trees were in poor condition and posed a "serious threat" to public safety but independent tree risk assessor Jeremy Barrell concluded that most were "perfectly safe".

The council originally predicted a £45,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant would cover the cost of the operation.

The council’s bill included £21,377 for security measures - £12,277 on policing, private security staff and guard dogs, and £9,100 on a 10ft metal wall to screen the operation. The council spent £5,824 on 62 replacement limes.

A Wandsworth council spokesman said: "The issue was never about money, rather the safety and well-being of the public and the looming danger that these trees in serious decline were beginning to pose… [This] was especially important in light of the threats from some protesters."

A Heritage Lottery Fund spokesman said: "More new trees have been planted than those removed… This is a pragmatic approach to securing a long-term, healthy and safe tree-lined avenue for everyone."

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