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Legal threat forces couple to kill trees

Karen Hawley and Robert Bird next to the giant trees that are at the centre of a dispute with their neighbours. NNL-140803-003333009

Karen Hawley and Robert Bird next to the giant trees that are at the centre of a dispute with their neighbours. NNL-140803-003333009

Lawyers have forced a couple to kill off some 64-year-old trees in their garden which were causing subsidence.

The trees were planted in 1950 by Robert Bird’s grandfather when he owned the house and land in Bugbrooke.

A parcel of land owned by a neighbour was subsequently sold off and homes, which later became Camp Close, were built there in 2001.

The trees were already about 50 years old at that point.

But Mr Bird and partner Karen Hawkey have received a letter on behalf of the insurers of the Camp Close house, telling them they have to poison the trees.

Mrs Hawkey said: “I don’t think the letter was very amicable, put it that way.

“It isn’t our fault that the trees were planted there. And it’s certainly not our fault a developer decided to build a house metres from what were clearly large mature trees.

“None of the decisions that have led to the damage are our fault yet we are somehow legally responsible. Frustrated isn’t the word.”

The letter, sent by the Reading-based chartered engineers The Davies Group, said: “Could we ask that you attend to the tree works as per the arboritist’s report in order to remove the cause of the structural movement?

“We would suggest that you appoint a competent tree surgeon to conduct this element of the work.

“We would also ask that you notify us in writing once the tree works have been completed.”

The couple have had to pay to have the trees poisoned so they do not cause any further damage to the house through clay shrinkage.

They have since discovered that, had they objected to the Camp Close housing scheme on the grounds that they could have been liable for any damage caused by their trees, they would not have had to take the action.

Mrs Hawkey hopes that others in the same situation will not make the same mistake.

She said: “I would like our story to be a warning to people that they should consider objecting to new homes to protect themselves.”

 

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