Safety / Diligence / Beech

During the worst of storm Eunice a magnificent veteran Beech succumbed to the savage gusts, sending it crashing down onto the bank from which it grew.

The whitest part is what’s left after the fungus has had it’s feed. So brittle it can be crushed by hand!

The root plate and base of the trunk were riddled with Ganoderma (a type of fungus that feasts on healthy heartwood) which compromised it’s structural integrity. Had it been inspected by a professional surveyor a few years ago, (considered good, routine maintenance for mature trees near highways and public spaces) the infection would have been detected, and the tree could have been heavily reduced, and preserved for many years to come, providing important habitat for the local ecosystem.

Can you see the ‘widow makers’ hanging above the lane?

When the old boy failed, the crown completely blocked a (luckily) quiet lane in Chillington, and the only casualties were a BT cable and telegraph pole. A council approved contractor attended in the afternoon to clear the road, and Openreach made a temporary fix to get local residents back online.

Although the road was cleared, locals soon raised concerns to the Parish Council about how the trunk had been left perched, precariously on the side of the steep bank. when challenged by the PC, the contractor’s response was “we were only there to clear the road”

The PC Clerk tracked down the owner of the tree, and recommended they contact Skywalkers DTS asap to inspect the site, which Jack did within 20 minutes of the call.

The whole area was a disaster waiting to happen. The crown had smashed other, smaller trees on both sides of the lane, leaving many hanging branches (widow makers) above the lane. And the trunk. That enormous trunk, was only being prevented from sliding straight down the bank, into the lane, by a small Ash (infected with Dieback) that the Beech had crushed when it fell. A road closure was immediately ordered, and Jack made a plan to make the lane safe again.

At 07:00 the following morning, Jordan from Davis Building arrived with his 25m rotary tele-handler. after a thorough risk assessment and method statement was agreed by the whole team, we set about making the lane safe again.

The first section, 1.5t

Sections of the trunk were carefully cut away whilst being supported by the winch on the machine. Once separated from the rest of the trunk, the sections were lifted over the bank and into the landowner’s field behind.

Topher guiding 2.8t into the field

Piece by piece, the whole trunk was placed safely out of harms way.

Once the main trunk was cleared from the bank, the team set about removing the dangerous, damaged Ash trees that were full of Beech brash.

Spinney preparing the next section for lifting

The rotary tele-handler tells the operator the precise weight of each load it’s lifts. The total for all the sections of the main trunk? 12.6 tonnes!

With the trunk shifted to safety and the other hazards made safe, our job was complete, and the lane was reopened. Many thanks to Davis Building (SW) Ltd for providing the rotary tele-handler at less than 12hrs notice, it would have been a very different job, (and considerably longer road closure) without you.