Four hours of bulldozing and tree cutting resulted in the destruction of a small area of woodland in Copthorne Gardens, Emerson Park Ward. This is an area used by local residents for recreation and a haven for wildlife.
Local residents alerted the Residents Association at 8.30 by phone and social media, with H.R.A members swinging into action. Two Resident Association Councillors reported this through to the emergency out of hours service. However, no officers arrived. Having received a response that no Tree officers are available at a weekend, this was challenged requesting an enforcement officer attend the site as the Police had no powers to stop the works without the Council’s say so. The out of hours supervisor rang an H.R.A member to ask further questions and said they would escalate the matter to get an officer on site.
The same H.R.A Member received a call from the Police Sgt asking for advice and support who was reassured that an officer was now on their way and not to walk around the site without the presence of a Councillor. This was agreed.
However, due to the time wasted in ensuring an officer attended the site, there was nothing that could be done to stop the chain saw and digger destruction. Some of the trees removed were believed to have Tree Preservation Orders.
Havering Planning officer has since confirmed that there were indeed Tree Preservation Orders in place on a site that has seen several unsuccessful development attempts.
Local residents with the support of H.R.A members have rallied to protect this area and despite stopping the works, the levelling of the forest now makes it look like a scarred battlefield.