A MOTHER is fighting to have a protected oak tree chopped down amid fears it poses a danger to her severely disabled son.

Maddy Chatzakis is appealing to the Secretary of State after Leeds City Council refused to allow the 130-year-old tree to be removed from her garden.

She is afraid for the safety of her eight-year-old son Yanni, who suffers from autism, ADHD and pica - a disorder which leads him to eat potentially dangerous things.

Yanni, who has no sense of danger and requires constant attention, regularly eats mud, wild mushrooms, leaves, twigs, acorns, and tree flowers.

The youngster has already been rushed into hospital after eating inedible material from the garden at Hawkhill Avenue in Guiseley.

Maddy and her husband Achilles want to resurface the outdoor space to get rid of all vegetation and to make it as safe as possible.

They already have planning permission for an extension to their house for a sensory room combined with a safe enclosed garden area. But the couple say they have been prevented from going ahead with the work by Leeds City Council's refusal to lift a protection order on the tree.

They are now appealing against the decision,which they argue puts their son's welfare at risk.

Maddy said she was "absolutely gutted" by the refusal to lift the Tree Preservation Order.

She stressed she had the support of medical professionals and couldn't understand why the application had been turned down.

"That decision was totally unexpected - I think it shocked the professionals as well," she said.

"Pretty much everybody I meet in Guiseley just can't believe the decision."

She said: "Leeds Child Health and Disability (CHAD) have reiterated the need for the TPO to be lifted to fell the tree."

MP Stuart Andrew has also contacted Leeds City Council in support of the family's efforts to have the TPO removed and the tree felled.

Maddy says she and her husband, who suffers from Crohns, are also having their health put at risk because of the extra pressure created by the fight to get rid of the tree.

"The additional stress of appealing Leeds' refusal to lift the TPO to keep our severely disabled son safe has put me at extreme risk of a nervous breakdown," she said.

"My husband has ill health, exacerbated by stress. He has been told he is likely to need another operation."

The couple have said they would plant three more trees to offset the loss of the oak in their garden, and they have been offered a space to do this in Parkinson's Park.

Leeds City Council has given permission for remedial pruning but says it is not necessary to remove the tree.

A report on the application says: "According to the independent and expert Arboricultural report, the tree is in very good condition and suggests only minimal works to it. The report states that the crown spread and root protection zone are outside the footprint of the proposed extension/safe play area therefore there is no conflict between the two.

"The layout strikes a balance in providing for the needs of the child whist retaining the tree. There are no planning matters delaying the starting /implementing the adaptation works straightaway.

"It is considered that the needs of the applicants, other residents and the wider benefits of the tree

can be balanced appropriately without the loss of the tree."

It adds: "In particular, it is considered that retaining the tree in this area, given its age and condition, provides substantial public amenity and other benefits, and if the tree is properly managed, and if the safe play area is monitored and kept safe/clear, retaining the tree will present only a very low risk to the child, and therefore the application to remove the tree is not approved."