Landowners have been advised to 'take stock' before clearing storm-damaged trees – or accepting any offers have them removed.

Speaking from property consultancy Galbraith, partner Athole McKillop said that fallen timber should be carefully assessed for its proper value before handing the 'problem' of clearing them to what may appear to be well meaning timber experts in the wake of Storm Arwen.

Thousands of properties in Scotland and the North of England were still without power in recent days, a week after the powerful weather system wreaked havoc. This week, rural populations were once again braced, this time for Storm Barra.

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“It’s tempting to quickly clear away the mess so people can repair damage and get on with business,” said Mr McKillop. “But it’s vital that they are selective. In putting this ugly episode behind them, some owners do not appear to appreciate the financial value of timber uprooted or blown down on their properties.

“Amid the chaos they should pause – and if necessary seek expert advice. Whilst it is important to assess and quickly act where trees present a danger, in other situations the true value should be given full consideration – how is the market reacting, do I have the legal requirements in place to clear blown timber and importantly, are the contractors doing the work competent to do so? In addition, trees which are still on the root can stay in place for a long time without deterioration, so is it necessary to jump in straight away?

Louise Alexander, a forester at Galbraith’s Inverness office, added: “We’ve heard from estates where visitors have appeared offering to remove storm-damaged trees – not only individuals but representatives of commercial forestry firms. Sometimes it will be important to act swiftly to clear debris, but in cases where it’s not causing a problem, it may be better to wait until, say, the spring, to achieve full value and without time pressure.”

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