SaveTreesLDN

Trees threatened with felling by Islington Council to make way for flats are seen at Dixon Clark Court, Highbury Corner, Islington, London, United Kingdom, 19 April 2020

This is a new campaign to save the 7 mature trees at Dixon Clark Court; the campaign was started by Conor McHugh who sadly died on 17 April. It makes us more determined to fight to save the trees which have had a stay of execution from their orignal felling day of 26 March when combined action by us and the impending virus lock-down stopped this from happening. The campaign is currently a group of people on Whatsapp and Alex Howell has kindly taken over how we proceed. If you want to get more involved, please contact eilidh.murray@blueyonder.co.uk. We are active on Twitter under the handle https://twitter.com/SaveTreesLDN.

OPEN LETTER (as at 7 May 2020)

To add your name or your organisation’s name to this letter, please contact Eilidh.

Open Letter to Islington Council Executive and Councillors

Re: Save Threatened Trees at Dixon Clark Court, Highbury Corner

We are a group of concerned citizens and environmental and social organisations from Islington and are writing to you regarding the seven ecologically important and mature Dixon Clark Court (DCC) trees on Canonbury Road at Highbury Corner.

We were shocked to learn that a family of nesting blackbirds, including two juveniles, was disturbed by contractors clearcutting the communal garden enjoyed by social housing residents during the commencement of tree works at the site. This happened before work on the mature trees could begin. The work was thankfully halted due to coronavirus social distancing. A wildlife crime officer with the Metropolitan Police highlighted to us that the United Kingdom’s bird nesting season runs from March to July each year. Disturbing birds during this critical time is a crime under the United Kingdom’s Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. As such, Islington Council may have committed a wildlife crime. The seven trees and the birds that live in and amongst them are cherished by council residents of the area, as well as by the children of nearby Canonbury Primary School. Not only do these healthy sycamore, chestnut and Norwegian maple trees support a rich biodiversity of plants, insects and birds, they also help remove pollution from the air for residents and school children.

Islington Council recently opened its proposed Biodiversity Action Plan to public comment. Paragraph 1.3.2 clearly states that “exposure to the natural environment has a beneficial impact on young people’s physical, mental and social development. Contact with nature has been shown to improve children’s concentration, confidence and behaviour. In 2016, Natural England published a report containing evidence that a greater amount of natural spaces in or around the learning environment (e.g. the school) is associated with better emotional, behavioural and learning processes and outcomes.” In this regard, we hope that Islington Council will heed its own words and spare the seven trees at Dixon Clark Court.

Last year the council declared a climate and ecological emergency, for which it is to be commended. Yet to date, pleas with the executive to save the trees on climate and ecological grounds have fallen on deaf ears. Saving trees in North London should be a no-brainer, and yet the council’s ‘business as usual’ response has been to dig in its heels, committing to carry out the tree removal work later on this year. Our beautiful trees act as a carbon sink for Islington. This helps our borough remain on target for achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030, for which it has pledged. The council is already an emitter of carbon dioxide and so felling the seven trees would take the council one step away from becoming carbon neutral. ​

We also believe that the Council is, from an aesthetic-environmental perspective, making a grave error in allowing the development, particularly with respect to the private block abutting the roundabout. Having substantially reduced the size of the green reservation and tree cover within the roundabout to effect the controversial 2018/19 redevelopment, the removal of a further seven mature trees on an adjacent site would amount to a disaster for the whole Highbury Corner landscaping. With no overspill of wooded space that is currently provided by the mature trees on the Dixon Clark Court site Islington will be left with the shrunken green roundabout reservation, walled in by concrete and traffic.

The environmental conditions have changed with the roundabout redevelopment. By ignoring this the Council will inflict an irreversible loss on the public. The council has shown that it can act quickly and responsibly in an emergency situation, as it is currently doing during the coronavirus public health crisis. In light of this, and if our elected politicians truly believe that we are, as they have themselves declared, in an emergency situation, all Islington trees – including the seven at Highbury Corner – should be spared. Not just for carbon capture purposes, but for the respiratory and mental health of the borough’s inhabitants, both young and old. Now more than ever we see the value of nature, particularly in these troubled and constrained days.

It’s not too late for a U-turn on this. It’s better to admit a mistake and correct it than to persist on a mistaken course of action that will mean permanent damage to the environment and a great loss to local residents and their children.

Endnote: It is with the deepest sadness and regret that we announce the sudden death of Conor McHugh, who loved these trees and started this campaign. Thank you, Conor.

Yours sincerely,

Islington residents: Marie Demetriou Anne Durkin Lucy Facer Pippa Falstrup Jake Farr Helena Farstad Alison Finlay Vania Flaccomio Alec Forshaw Anita Frizzarin Sabine Gerth, (Canonbury Primary School parent) Alison Gosper, (Canonbury Primary School parent) Colin Gregg Agathe Gretton Ben Griffith Heidi Hamann Adam Hardy Andrew Hawkins Olly Hoeben Alex Hofford Tess Holden Dan Holliday Meg Howarth Sophie Hulme Alex Jelly Alexis Johansen Joanna Johansen Matteo La Manna Diane Leake Kathleen Leedham-Green David Leibel Sabine Leitner Christine Mackenzie Ian Mackenzie Louise Matlock Frances McRae Roger Mears Michael Ann Mullen Eilidh Murray Angela Neustatter Nick Newton Devon Osborne Jim Pang Alexander Payne Kate Pothalingam Mavis Pilbeam ​Mike Priaulx Mary Rice Elise Rosen Angela Salmon Daniela Sbrisny Julian Scott Joanie Speers Ted Swift Andrew Thomas Toby Thompson Agnes Treplin Tory Turk Hélène Vannier Julia Vellacott Teresa Wells Charles Wood Paul Wood Susan Wood

Islington Organisations: Compton Terrace Garden Committee Extinction Rebellion Islington Highbury Fields Association Islington Archaeology and History Society Islington Clean Air Parents Islington Gardeners Islington Society Inspiring Sustainable Islington Islington Swifts Islington Wildlife Group John Spencer Square Residents Association Margins Project (Union Chapel, Islington) Royal Sequoia Foundation Upper Street Association

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