Trees are a vital part of our eco-system and are necessary for us to live.
They are also one of the oldest living organisms in the world, with a yew tree in the village of Llangernyw, Conwy, in North Wales believed to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old.
However when they are on our doorstep they can be a nuisance and sometimes dangerous. Another thing they can be is a bone of contention between neighbours.
One such disagreement has been happening in Blackpool between a retired couple and their neighbour, whose property is owned by Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH).
Tony, 75, and Linda Brown, 68, said they have been having an ongoing dispute with BCH over their Dawlish Avenue neighbour’s 60ft sycamore tree which is in the back garden.
Linda said: “At first it wasn’t very big and we didn’t know what type of tree it was. But now it’s nearly 60ft high and sycamore trees are one of the worst to have growing in your garden.
“It’s blocking the light into our kitchen and bathroom and it’s just dark everywhere else in the house as well.
“I really cannot put up with it anymore. I really want to move but I shouldn’t, that is what other people are telling me. I love my garden and we have put lots of time and effort into it and it’s so painful that this tree is ruining it.”
The couple moved into the Grange Park property four years ago and have lived in the resort for the past 14 years.
Linda is a full time carer for her husband Tony, who is a retired builder. Tony has Alzheimer’s and Linda says the dispute has been impacting her health as well.
She said: “It has definitely affected my anxiety due to the stress of the situation and it has also caused a heart defect. I worry it may cause a heart attack as well.
“We have also probably got a vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of sunlight we are getting on the house.
“I also believe there is a gnat’s nest in the tree and there are swarms of the things when it’s sunny, so I can’t even sit out and enjoy my own garden anymore.
“Apparently there is a preservation order on them and they can’t be touched but to me they are vermin.”
Linda believes her neighbour has been at the property for nearly 20 years but it doesn’t make a difference about how their garden is maintained.
She said: “Any tenants are responsible to maintain the property they are living in, but between her and BCH they are not doing anything about it at all. Surely it must be against the law
“It has cost Tony and I more than £1,000 in solicitor’s fees to fight BCH over the tree and we feel we have no one else to turn to anymore.
“The tree is damaging the fence now and because it’s our property we will have to have it replaced which is going to cost us even more money.”
Despite the concerns the couple have raised, BCH said there is not a single problem with the tree being there.
A spokesman for Blackpool Coastal Housing said: “BCH is aware of a reported issue with a tree at the address.
“This has been investigated and the tree is in a healthy condition and not causing any demonstrable problem.
“In those circumstances we would not remove or scale back a healthy tree.”
Following the comments made by BCH, Linda contacted the Gazette and advised workers have been around to the property to inspect the tree.
Sycamore trees are considered to be an important source of shelter for wildlife but they are not automatically protected under the law.
However many are subject to local council ‘Tree Preservation Orders’ which can carry a maximum fine of £20,000 if they are breached, such as cutting down or loping the preserved tree. An order can be used to protect individual trees, trees within an area, groups of trees or whole woodlands.