Tooting Common’s 160-year-old trees face the chop as Wandsworth Council try to halt spread of bleeding canker

There has been a social media uproar following Wandsworth Council’s decision to fell 77 trees along Chestnut Avenue in Tooting Common.

The historic avenue has been a key part of Tooting’s history since the 19th century, and the council are keen to ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.

Following an in-depth investigation conducted by Wandsworth Council, it was discovered that a large number of the trees are infected with bleeding canker, an infectious incurable disease that affects Chestnut Oaks.

The trees in question are around 160 years old, meaning they are approaching the end of their natural lifespan.

A proposal was made to the public to replace all 77 trees at the same time in order to preserve the avenue as effectively as possible.

The proposal was backed by 74% of respondents, with only 22% opposing the decision.

However petitions by campaigners have started circulating on social media in an attempt to prevent the council going ahead with the project, leading to concerns around the lack of context the campaigners are giving their audience.

A council spokesman said: “We as a responsible local authority have to look at the options when confronted with trees that are diseased and dying to not only ensure there’s an avenue of trees for future generations, but also for the safety of the general public.”

In February, a tree on the avenue collapsed without warning, leaving the council concerned for the welfare of the general public.

“We want to maintain this avenue for our children and our grandchildren so they can last another 150 years,” said the council.

“What we can’t do as a responsible local authority is be aware that within a short period of time these trees will start posing a risk to members of the public and do nothing.”

The Tooting Common’s Management Advisory Committee, an independent watchdog group, commended the investigation.

They said: “They conducted a very thorough, transparent, well-informed and balanced consultative process on the highly sensitive issue of Chestnut Avenue.”

The project does not have a definite start date, but Wandsworth Council advised that due to the approach of winter it would not begin until spring/summer 2017.

Featured picture courtesy of Herry Lawford, with thanks

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