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Council offers to plant trees equivalent to legal costs if protesters end action

The London Borough of Islington has offered to plant trees to a value equivalent to the legal costs it would incur in moving protesters if they voluntarily stop occupying a copse due to be felled.

Islington wants to build 27 council homes adjacent to its Dixon Clark Court tower block, but protesters have occupied the site’s trees to try to prevent them being felled.

Diarmaid Ward, the council's executive member for housing and development, said: “Demand for council housing massively outstrips supply and far too many families are in increasingly desperate positions. We are doing everything we can to address this very serious problem, including building the 27 new council homes planned at Dixon Clark Court. 

“The council does not take the decision to remove trees lightly and we always pledge to replace more trees than are removed.”

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Cllr Ward said the council would plant 63 new trees around the borough - including 13 at Dixon Clark Court - to replace those felled, which would exceed the carbon absorption from the existing trees and would make other biodiversity improvements.

Islington has though been unable to proceed while the protest continues.

It made the offer to divert the legal costs of removing the protesters into further tree planting, but did not say how much money this would involve.

A petition on the change.org website opposing the tree felling has attracted 733 signatures.

It said retaining at least seven of the 18 “mature and healthy trees” the council originally wanted to remove would provide an important screen for the estate and the adjacent primary school.

The petition added: “Amending an already approved planning decision in favour of preserving trees would be an important precedent in helping to avoid urban deforestation in the future.”

Mark Smulian

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