A battle is underway in Stroud Green to save a 100-year-old tree from being chopped down amid claims it is damaging homes.

Campaigners are guarding the plane tree in Oakfield Road “day and night” to save it from council chainsaws, while warning around 200 more trees across the borough could be under threat from insurance claims.

They have already fought off an attempt to bring down the tree on May 16 and are demanding a proper meeting to discuss their concerns with all parties involved.

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The campaigners want to see the houses underpinned properly and the tree retained by insurer Allianz, which is making the claim.

But Haringey Council still plans to remove the tree, claiming it is “causing significant damage to the residents’ homes” and the costs of meeting an insurance claim would be too high.

Giovanna Iozzi, of campaign group Haringey Tree Protectors, said: “Many people have told us they moved to Stroud Green because of its tree-lined roads, but we are seeing an increasing assault on these trees from the council and insurers, more fellings, but also a severe cutting practice called topping, which can kill the trees.

“We believe trees should be seen as vital infrastructure as much as roads, schools and housing.”

The campaigners say around 200 trees across the borough are currently threatened by insurance claims, including 35 in just three roads in Stroud Green.

Pointing out that Haringey is built on clay soil prone to cracking and moving, they claim trees are being blamed for a problem that is being caused by climate change, with hotter summers putting trees under greater strain for water sources. Relatively cheap irrigation approaches implemented with help from residents could help ease some of these problems, they say.

Giovanna said campaigners were occupying the tree “day and night” but claimed residents had still not been offered a “meaningful meeting” with the council.

“We need to learn how to keep our trees and do work on buildings,” she added. “We need our trees. They are vital carbon sinks and are brilliant for physical and mental health.”

An Allianz spokesperson said the company looks for “long-term solutions that protect our natural and built environment” and is “committed to operating in a climate-friendly way”

They added: “What is at stake here is the solidity of two homes. Many experts, including an arboriculturist, have assessed the situation over time and looked at the best way to protect these properties from further structural damage while also saving the tree. Pollarding, a pruning technique used to restrict growth, has proved inefficient. Unfortunately, the only practical solution is to remove the tree, as an independent engineer has confirmed.”

Mike Hakata, deputy leader of Haringey Council and cabinet member for climate action, environment and transport, said he did not want to see trees removed and had met with residents in Oakfield Road on a number of occasions.

He added: “We have been fighting to save this tree since the original claim was made in 2015. But the technical evidence we have received supports the requirement for this tree to be removed, as it is causing significant damage to the residents’ homes.

“If the tree remains and these adjoining homes are underpinned, we will be facing a high-value insurance claim in excess of £400,000. That cost would need to be met by the council rather than an insurance company or any other organisation.

“This is simply beyond our budgetary control and would have significant impact on other key service areas. As a council, we are fighting to get this law changed and will continue to fight for our residents. In the meantime, we will look to provide a more suitable tree at this location once the existing tree is removed and plant additional trees to ensure that we at least match the overall environmental benefit that the removed tree would otherwise bring.”