Campaigners trying to save a tree that was faced with the axe two years ago are worried plans to cut it back might kill it.

Redbridge Council gave the go ahead for the trimming of the tree, which sits on private land in New North Road in Hainault, because it has become overgrown.

But people living nearby have raised concerns that cutting back the tree too much could send it into shock and cause it to die, meaning it would have to be cut down after all.

In 2016, a planning application requesting permission to cut down the willow caused outrage in the community.

While the application was eventually denied by the council, people are now worried the new application could spell the end.

A Mr Poole, who lives in Hainault, wrote to the council to express his concern. He said: “I can see that despite residents representations, outlining the developers intentions all along, admonishing the council for not standing up to the developer, and despite the previous press coverage, the council has approved the significant reduction to this magnificent willow tree.

“This tree, specifically grows on wet land, and is an important part of the ecosystem, in maintaining the balance, preventing the land becoming waterlogged.”

Mr Poole added he had attempted to contact council officers over the phone a number of times last month to discuss the issue, but claims he got no response.

Graham Hatt, also of Hainault, said: "Over the course of the last two and a half years at least five applications have been made to have the willow 'felled', 'crowned', and 'cut back'.

"The whole time this has been going on the Hainault willow has been reduced to a mere shell of itself, there has been a Tree Protection Order in place.

"The poor old Hainault willow does not look well now."

Those concerned now question whether proper consideration was given to the application by the authority before permission to cut back the tree was granted.

But a spokesman for Redbridge Council said it had carefully considered all elements of the application before reaching a final decision.

They said: “The willow tree is on private land and we received an application from the owner to carry out essential maintenance work as the tree is overgrown.

“We understand residents are concerned about the tree but we would like to assure them that we carefully considered the application and that it is not for the removal but to trim it back and we will direct the land owner to trained tree surgeons.”

Mr Poole then raised the question whether the mature oak trees further down the same road in Hainault are properly protected from felling.

The council spokesman responded: “The oak trees on New North Road are on council land and protected so it is not necessary to use Tree Preservation Orders.”