Elm woman’s fears over 13-year tree battle

Michelle Sheppard, with the trees that are causing concern, as they are over hanging her property to the left and the Friday Bridge Road to the right, in the village of Elm near Wisbech ANL-160806-080653009
Michelle Sheppard, with the trees that are causing concern, as they are over hanging her property to the left and the Friday Bridge Road to the right, in the village of Elm near Wisbech ANL-160806-080653009
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An Elm woman’s fears have been realised after 13 years of battling to have the trees beside her home cut back and made safe.

On Tuesday of last week, Michelle Sheppard, of Birch Grove, saw first-hand the disruption caused as one of the trees toppled over and is just grateful the wind did not cause the tree to fall in the direction of her nearby home.

She said: “We’re extremely frustrated, the time it has taken today to clear has held everything up and it could have been avoided if the council had listen to us two years ago when we said the trees needed to cut back. If someone had been at the bus stop they could have been seriously hurt. We’re just lucky it didn’t fall our way, it does frighten me when we get strong winds.

“It’s not nice ... it’s like you’re living on edge.”

The fallen tree was first reported at 4am on Tuesday when it fell blocking the whole carriageway and a driveway.

Police and officers from Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways department were called to the scene where they remained until much later in the afternoon as the tree was removed and diversions were put in place.

The trees sit just between Michelle’s home and Friday Bridge Road, cut out all the light to her garden and often leave a mess of branches and leaves scattered on her lawn.

She said: “When the wind blows they really shake, if they fall our way they would hit our house and car port.

“They don’t belong to us and Highways said it was nothing to do wth them when they came out. I’ve tried at east a dozen times to find out who they belong to so that we can get them cut back to a reasonable height.”

The trees are so tall they have become tangled with the phone lines causing several problems with the phone service at Michelle’s home and the tree that fell last week has left a hole under her fence where the roots have ripped out of the soil.

The Fenland Citizen tried to track down the owners of the trees but both Fenland District Council and Elm Parish Council confirmed they do not own the trees.

Parish council clerk Terry Jordan said: “I believe if trees overhang your property and the owners cannot be found, you are allowed to have the trees cut back but this costs considerable money.

“I believe the trees must be owned by a private individual and would recommend Mrs Sheppard contact Land Registry to find out who, or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to find out what she can do.”