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OTTERY: EDDC warn public after fallen trees cause havoc

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Two major incidences of fallen trees near Ottery St Mary have triggered a warning from East Devon District Council that residents may not have seen the back of the recent storms.
The council has urged people to be cautious when driving at night and to be aware of the potential for fallen trees to be blocking the road, following the collapse of an oak tree at Fairmile on Saturday (February 15th) which crushed a barn.
An EDDC Building Control Officer was called out to assess the damage to the barn, which is part of Mill Farm – a listed building – and the potential risk to passers-by.
He advised that part of the gable end wall should be demolished and a large section of the tree should be left where it fell – within the building. Tree surgeons then set about the huge task of clearing the trunk and limbs from the highway.
The lane remained partially closed over the weekend because of the risk of a further collapse, and will remain narrowed to one lane for some considerable time.
Landowner Nickie McDonald said: “The tree was dismantled on Saturday afternoon and it took the rest of the day to clear it. Two thirds of the barn has been demolished.
“It is a busy road that people use from all directions so it will cause problems. I feel sorry for the cars that arrived on the scene first, but the fact that nobody was injured was a real blessing.”
A second incident occurred in West Hill where two trees had blown down with one left resting against a large pine tree, and residents were concerned that it could endanger nearby properties if it collapsed.
EDDC has now issued a warning to residents across the district to beware of the dangers of falling trees, even as floodwaters begin to recede and wind speeds drop.
Councillor Ian Chubb, EDDC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “The public are quite right to report these incidents to us and we will get to each one as soon as we can. We are trying to prioritise this work so that we attend the most dangerous scenes first.
“Falling trees are a problem in every part of the UK where there has been a combination of heavy rain and strong winds.
“The soil becomes saturated and loose and is then not able to support the roots when the tree comes under pressure from gales.
“I would like to commend our Building Control and Countryside teams for their hard work in responding to a much higher than average incidence of fallen trees.”
The council is also advising walkers and motorists to keep an eye on the trees ahead of them in case they fall, and to be especially vigilant while driving at night.


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