A little girl penned a tearful letter to her council demanding answers – after they chopped down her “favourite tree.”
Sophie Cooper, eight, begged workmen to stop hacking down the large London Plane from her window.
The Year 4 student from Lee, south east London, then penned a letter to Lewisham Council demanding answers after the big tree outside her home was given the chop.
Sophie, who wants to be an environmentalist when she is older, wrote: “Why did you cut it down? What did it do to you?
“It makes me feel very sad and mad. What about the birds that lived there?
“Please, please stop. If you don’t, then I will write more letters.”
She enclosed a coloured pencil sketch of a tree in her message to the authority.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “It’s bad to cut down trees. You can only cut them down if they’re poorly.”
Sophie’s passion for the environment has been fuelled by her science lessons at St Winifred’s Catholic Primary School, which she says have also inspired her school friends.
Her mother, Andrea, said: “She started caring about the environment really young. We’d be driving along and she’d see a tree being cut down and she’d cry and get really upset.
“It was like she really cared for the tree, almost as if it was a person.
“She’s always wanted to help animals, as well as people. She has a really caring, massive heart.”
Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, praised Sophie’s support for the environment and added: “We value our trees in Lewisham – they are crucial green lungs, particularly in urban areas.
“We need to make sure the borough’s street trees are in good health, thriving and safe and we will only ever remove trees in specific circumstances and where there is no alternative option.
“In this particular case the tree was a potential hazard. We tried hard to resolve the risk but unfortunately, we had no option other than to remove it.
“We will always try to replace any trees we remove. We also work closely with community groups regarding street tree planting and in the recent season planted over 200 trees.”
A neighbouring council has also been slammed after a “magnificent” 250-year-old tree was chopped down.
Locals including council worker Paul Worker were left fuming over the move in Plumstead, south east London.
He said there was “no reason” to remove the towering specimen which helped reduce air pollution.
The London Plane, which was planted when George III was on the throne and America was still a British colony, faced a busy road junction.
Greenwich council claimed it cost too much to prune and in related traffic management costs during planned works to the junction.
Paul said: “This magnificent tree was professionally pollarded around three years ago and has benefited with a resurgence in growth and leaf cover.”
“There was little to no notice, nor a residential consultation before they began cutting it down.”
Now council worker Bob Charlton has responded to the criticism in an email to Paul – admitting the reason was to save costs on pruning the tree and related traffic management.
He said: “Since the development of the corner plot on the junction of Wickham Lane and Plumstead High Street and the need to pollard the tree to facilitate the development.
“The resulting subsequent additional costs of maintaining the tree presently and in the future are significant.
“Both the regular pruning and the installation of traffic management required to allow the operation to go ahead safely have led to a significant increase in the cost of maintaining this particular tree.”
He said they would remove the tree and plant replacements in the general area that are more manageable to make long-term cost savings.
Bob added: “Whilst London Planes are magnificent trees and ideal for surviving in areas where there are high levels of pollution there are alternative species that do a far better job in both pollution reduction and contribution to local bio-diversity.
“I would like to add that the tree in question was not totally defect free.”