More than 50,000 people have signed a petition to save two century-old oak trees in Lewisham.
People are desperate to save the 100-year-old oaks on Moremead Road, but the council says the trees are causing a nearby home to sink into the ground.
Residents are demanding the council provide proof of their claims before the beloved trees are cut down. The council says a third party has the evidence – so it can’t share the results.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Aiga Maras explained her children and others often play under the trees.
The mum said: “The council still keeps saying it did everything they could but we didn’t get any details. We wanted documents to say what was done to save the trees but they’re just not showing us.
“They said the reports were done by a third party and not theirs to share, but how does that work when the trees are on public land?
“It’s public land so the public should be able to see the reports.”
She said residents enjoy looking at the trees every day, that they provide shade, and children play under them.
Aiga says the community got together recently for a little party on the grass during the hot weather. She continued: “All the kids were playing and we all took shade under the trees.
(Image: LDR Grainne Cuffe)
“But it’s much bigger than that, this is an environmental issue as well. The trees do so much.”
Other residents said they would be very sad to see the “big old beautiful” trees go.
Lydia Morley said: “It was sad to see when the signs went up. The council is being quite cagey about which property is the one affected. People would be more understanding if they had the evidence to prove it.”
The council put up a notice about two months ago giving 28 days notice before the trees are cut down, but is yet to make the move.
A spokesman for the council said: “Lewisham Council regret that despite the best efforts of our tree services team and the actions they have taken to save two oak trees implicated in subsidence of a nearby property in Moremead Road, we have been left with no option but to remove them.
“Since the first report of subsidence by the property owner in 2016, we have explored all options for retaining the trees.
“After a detailed study, we cut back the branches and leaves of both trees by 50 per cent to significantly reduce the amount of moisture each tree needed.
“We also considered introducing barriers to stem the spread of the trees’ roots but we ruled this out because it would only provide a temporary and not a long-term solution.
“Meanwhile, further reports of subsidence at the nearby property have been reported. We have a legal duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent damage occurring to a third party’s property.”
The spokesman said the local authority understands why residents are upset and said removing the oaks is a “last resort and not a decision the council takes lightly”.
He added: “We recognise the many benefits that mature trees provide in terms of biodiversity, shading, flood prevention and visual amenity.
“Protecting and nurturing trees is really important to us. We look after about 37,000 trees – more than 12,000 of which we’ve planted since 2018 – and we’re absolutely committed to planting more.
“We will be planting more trees on the green where these oaks are being removed and we are working with the residents to select the species of these.”