Family may have to move as cannot uproot ‘dangerous’ tree in France

100-year-old cedar could destroy home, says family, but local authority officials at standstill over rules

The tree is said to be a threat to the property. Photo for illustrative purposes only
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A family who built a new home on 365m² of land in the suburbs of Paris have found themselves at an impasse over the status of a tree they deem ‘dangerous’ on their land.

The land is located in La Ferté-Alais, Essonne, which the family purchased in February 2021 and constructed a 91m² house soon after.

They wished to demolish a 100-year old cedar tree, less than five metres away from the new walls, after one of its roots were destroyed in the new home’s construction.

The tree is located on a small mound directly near the corner of the home.

However, when they hired someone to cut down the tree, the tradesperson was stopped by a neighbour who informed them of the tree’s protected status.

The issue is complicated by the fact that the new owner Carmida Lopes Da Veiga reached out to the local planning authorities before attempting to uproot the tree, who assured her she was within her rights to do so.

The family claim the danger the tree poses may make their new home impossible to live in, and they may have to leave the property altogether due to the risk.

Tree has protected status

The owners of the new land are deemed at fault by local conservation groups, because in the land register, a note stating “tree to be preserved” is attached to the specific plot of land where the cedar tree resides.

This was overlooked during the purchase and construction of the house, even if the cedar tree ended up closer than expected to the final boundaries of the property.

The 15-metre tall tree was only targeted for uprooting after building of the house was complete, due to the potential danger from its proximity to the home and its weakened roots caused by the construction.

The neighbour who prevented the felling of the tree belongs to the Les riverains de la Sablière association, a local group who aim to protect the natural environment in the area.

This group was also influential in the protection of other trees in the town– including on the land purchased by Miss Da Veiga and her family.

‘Health’ of tree is under question

For their part, the family cite the lack of safety of having a potentially unstable tree so close to their home.

They have ordered a bailiff’s report (rapport d’huissier) which shows the presence of a “dangerous tree” on their land which needs to be removed, regardless of its protected status.

However, the local mairie claims the tree is in “good health” according to Le Figaro, and that the family were fully aware of the condition of the land they purchased – including the tree's status – due to the information made available to them during the sale and before construction began.

The two sides are now at an impasse, and unless an amicable solution is found – which is now the first step in the case of most neighbourly disagreements – a court may need to hand down a definitive ruling.

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