December 6 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
A tree surgeon who faced the Great Storm’s devastating effects, fears lessons which should have been learnt went unheeded.
Paul King claims the precarious conditions preceding the 1987 gales were eerily similar to those before St Jude’s arrival on Monday morning - yet insufficient preparations were taken to prevent a repeat of the disaster.
“I was looking at it develop and I knew we were going to have a severe problem,” he said.
As in ‘87, Mr King said a late autumn had left trees fully leaved and recent rain meant the ground was loose.
These conditions and the approaching high winds can combine to treacherous effect, which he suggests should have sparked sterner warnings and greater preparation.
“We appreciate that lines are going to come down with falling trees but it’s the same story every time - nobody can get any information,” he said.
“It was nailed in fairly hard by Sunday that this was going to happen so the authorities and power companies had time to get people in place but everybody I’ve been speaking to seems to be saying the same thing - they’ve been left in the dark.”
Mr King, who owns King & Co The Tree Nursery, in Rayne in Essex, also believes a cultural shift in the nation’s approach to urban tree maintenance would reduce storm damage.
“We’ve got a fire-brigade-type approach to tree surgery in the country and we don’t carry out enough preventative maintenance,” he said.
“Mature trees should really be inspected every five or six years so that any defects can be dealt with there and then.”