Recession is root of London’s tree-planting cash crisis, says Assembly

The recession has caused fears for the future of London’s street trees which help to ‘green up’ the urban environment.

Fewer street trees have been planted because of public spending cuts, the London Assembly’s environment chair warns today.

Worst of all is London’s deprived East End, with fewer trees where they are needed than anywhere else.

There are just 4,000 known to line the highways of Tower Hamlets, putting the area at the bottom of the league table of the 32 London boroughs.

This compares with 9,500 in neighbouring Hackney and 17,600 in Newham.

“We have real concerns about reduced planting and more severe pruning with financial pressures facing local authorities,” warned the Assembly’s environment chair Darren Johnson.

“We found four years ago that many trees were being felled unnecessarily. But steps have been taken since then to protect those we already have.”

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A major concern in 2007 was town halls being too quick to chop down trees when households and insurance companies blamed them for subsidence damage.

A new way of working has been set up since, to avoid unnecessary felling while minimising risk to properties. But only eight boroughs and three insurers have signed up to the accord.

A �4 million ‘street trees’ programme is on course for another 10,000 to be planted in ‘priority’ areas, but this finishes next year.

Only The City has fewer street trees than Tower Hamlets and the other London boroughs, just 531 in the Square Mile, compared to a few examples of 20,000 in Waltham Forest, 21,000 in Redbridge, 23,000 in Havering, 25,000 Enfield, 29,000 in Barnet, 33,000 in Croydon and 36,000 in Bromley.