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In a climate emergency trees matter

07 February, 2020

Copy of a letter concerning the Dixon Clark Court development 

DEAR Islington Council,

• Illegal levels of air pollution, as a result of transport, construction work, and the continuous practice of burning coal and wood in the borough, are seriously damaging our children’s health.

It is also contributing to significant amounts of carbon emissions which the council has committed to reduce to net zero by 2030. It thus seems somewhat contradictory to make axing seven mature roadside trees at Highbury Corner one of your first deeds of 2020.

If the council is serious about the climate emergency declaration and the importance of biodiversity, every action involving the reduction of green space in the borough must be reviewed.

Until we know how to value appropriately the carbon sequestration of a mature tree, its ability to purify the air we all depend on, its provision of much-needed shade in a heating city, and its place making for insects and birds; the current decision-making process is at risk of undermining the state of climate emergency that was declared in June last year.

The council does acknowledge that an overall deficit in leaf cover will result from their scheme, despite their honourable attempts to represent hedges and shrubs in brick and concrete boxes as compensatory green space. Planting new trees is welcome but, as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, thus it’s sadly not a straightforward replacement exercise.

Actively looking to find a way to preserve the seven trees at Dixon Clark Court will send a strong and clear message of intent that the council does not only prioritise the housing needs of our residents, but also their health, wellbeing, and our natural world.

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