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Local authority decisions to cut down trees can stir up strong emotions and will sometimes result in court proceedings.
In R (on the application of McClellan) v Lambeth London Borough Council  EWHC 1964 (Admin), the Queen’s Bench Division in London considered a claim for judicial review by a resident in Kennsington against Lambeth Council’s decision to fell a tree. The aptly named Judge Sycamore saved the ‘Tree of Heaven’ to the delight of local residents.
The 80 year old tree, owned by Lambeth London Borough Council was situated behind a public library in Kennington Conservation Area. It was not subject to a tree preservation order. The Council was concerned that tree roots could damage the library.
The Tree of Heaven is a native of China that may grow to a height of 80 to 90 feet. This deciduous species has large, pinnately compound leaves that have from 10 to 25 or more sharply-pointed leaflets. The small, greenish flowers which develop in June are very foul-smelling on the female trees. These flowers develop into flat, papery fruits that are wind dispersed. This tree is a prolific producer of root sprouts.
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