LETTER: More focus on tree hazards

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Recent events have demonstrated that insufficient focus is being given by the councils, the Electricity Network Asset owner UKPN and Network Rail to significantly reduce the hazard of falling trees and broken branches that will always occur during high winds when the ground is saturated.

My question to WSCC, HDC and Rail Track is: in this age of Health and Safety, can they confirm they carry out public safety risk assessments of trees that are likely to fall onto the roads, footpaths and rail tracks and then either remove or issue a legally binding enforcement notice to the tree owner requesting identified hazards be removed ?

My question of UKPN, whilst similar, suggests a course of action.

With the limited amount of locally based specialised tree cutting resources and knowledgeable call handling staff available to deal with emergencies, would it not be sensible to put more resources into the routine planned maintenance of their high and low voltage wood pole overhead lines during the summer months, to ensure that trees in falling distance and likely to fall onto their overhead lines, in a high wind or snow storm, are topped, sided, or removed.

Recent experience suggests that more focus needs to be given to the ring main 11000 volt wood pole overhead circuits that cross the fields and woods around Horsham.

To ensure sufficient focus is given to this task, perhaps its now time for the Electricity Regulator to take a more active approach by demanding a photograph showing the cause of every high voltage circuit failure, where a tree /branch has caused power conductors to fall below their statutory height.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could demand something similar from WSCC and HDC, for trees that fall onto their highways and footpaths.

Are we really surprised to learn that tall, leaning, coniferous trees, especially if ivy covered and rooted in saturated soil, will fall over in the high winds of winter?

It’s about time our Health and Safety organisations focused more of their effort onto the public safety issues of trees falling across highways, power lines and rail tracks.

CHRIS BEER

Swallowfield Close, Mannings Heath