'Storm-damaged trees could take up to 18 months to clear'

Members of Aberdeen City Council's Public Protection Committee met on Wednesday.

Aberdeen City Council chiefs say it could take ‘up to 18 months’ to clear up storm-damaged trees STV News
Storm Malik: The strong gusts brought this tree down.

Aberdeen City Council chiefs have estimated it could take up to 18 months to clear up damaged trees caused by recent storms Arwen, Malik and Corrie.

Members of the Public Protection Committee met on Wednesday to discuss the local authority’s response to the storms and the ongoing recovery process.

The council received more than 350 calls from members of the public following Storm Arwen with the number increasing to 477 following storms Malik and Corrie.

Storm Arwen hit the north-east on Friday, November 26, and left thousands of residents across the region without power for days.

A “significant” amount of damage was done to trees in the city following the storms.

At the height of Storm Malik, a woman was killed by a fallen tree on Aberdeen’s Deveron Road.

The council’s arboriculture team have been working hard to ensure trees across the city are safe and roads are clear of any fallen debris.

At the meeting, environmental manager Steven Shaw said that every ward in Aberdeen had been affected by damage to trees.

He said his team have been at “full pelt” since Storm Arwen to clean up fallen trees in a bid to keep the city safe and accessible.

Mr Shaw revealed that the council has received around 500 reported incidents that counts for “tens of thousands” of trees across Aberdeen.

He noted that his team has a “massive job” ahead of them and said they have been “inundated” with messages from local residents regarding trees all over the city.

Mr Shaw added: “Just as the team got organised after Storm Arwen, storms Malik and Corrie almost put us back to square one again in terms of surveying, inspecting and prioritising trees.”

The team have estimated that it may take between a year and 18 months to deal with the aftermath of the storms.

Trees will be replanted where possible but Mr Shaw warned it could “take years” to get back to pre-storm levels.

Councillor Jennifer Stewart thanked council staff for “rising to the challenge” in response to the storms and requested that the local authority write to the Scottish Government seeking additional support to allow the city to get back to normal.

Meanwhile councillors also agreed to make steps to improve the Regional Communication Centre (RCC) in the year ahead with a focus on providing more capacity for calls during major events.

A total of 13,386 calls were made to the RCC from residents in Aberdeen city, Aberdeenshire and Moray after Storm Arwen hit.

The local authority will also work on developing a Power Resilience City Plan that will enable response and recovery work to be provided during any future power outages in the city while a Persons at Risk Database (PARD) will be established to enable the council to identify and provide support to vulnerable residents who may be at risk during future extreme weather events such as storms or floods.