Monday 23 September 2019

Man lands costly legal bill in court battle with college over trees

Daniel De Jong
Daniel De Jong

Ray Managh

A man has landed himself a significant costs bill after failing to recover damages for the alleged nuisance of bird droppings and falling branches from Corsican pines in neighbouring school grounds.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke dismissed Daniel De Jong's €60,000 claim against Fingal Community College.

The judge told him he had brought himself to the nuisance when he bought his house in 2012 and extended his home towards the trees.

The Circuit Civil Court heard the trees had been more than a century old. Following earlier complaints by Mr De Jong to the college on Seatown Road, Swords, the college had taken expert advice and removed five trees that could have constituted a danger and pruned others.

Mr De Jong, who lives in Swords, said the college grounds adjoined his property and claimed the two trees were in poor condition and suffered from soil erosion, root and bark damage and the loss of lower branches.

He told the court the trees were a nuisance because of falling branches, leaves and debris, bird infestation and bird fouling.

Mr De Jong contended the trees were a hazard to his property and family due to a risk of branches or a whole tree falling on to his property in stormy weather conditions.

A consultant arborist called to give evidence on behalf of Mr De Jong agreed in cross-­examination by barrister Rob Lowe that the remaining trees had survived hurricane-like winds in recent years and could live for another 150 years.

Mr Lowe, who appeared with William Egan Solicitors for the college, said some of the trees considered a danger had been felled but no-one, despite an assessment by experts, had recommended that the remaining two trees be cut down.

Judge Groarke, in dismissing Mr De Jong's claim, said there was no nuisance and ordered him to pay the legal costs of the case.

Irish Independent

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