Saturday 24 August 2019

Man hit with legal bill after €60,000 claim over nuisance trees thrown out

Daniel De Jong
Daniel De Jong

Ray Managh

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

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, dismissing Daniel De Jong’s €60,000 claim against Fingal Community College, told him he had brought himself to the nuisance when he bought his house in 2012 and later extended it towards the trees.

The Circuit Civil Court heard that the trees - listed protected species of Corsican pines - had been more than a century old.  Following earlier complaints by Mr De Jong to the college in Swords, Co Dublin, the college had taken expert advice and had removed five of the 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. While the college had removed five trees in 2017 it had refused, despite repeated requests, to remove the two remaining trees responsible for the nuisance.

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 onto 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.

He told the court the college continued to have the trees inspected every year and would continue to have them assessed.  The top canopy by the very nature of the Corsican pinus nigra trees was an attraction to nesting birds.

Judge Groarke, in dismissing Mr De Jong’s claim, said there was no nuisance and if there was Mr De Jong had brought himself to it when he had bought the house which he had since extended underneath the trees. He ordered De Jong to pay the legal costs of the case.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss

Also in News