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17 May

Hoyle v Hampshire Council.

A tree was uprooted following heavy rain.  Mr. Hoyle was tragically killed by this.  His family made a claim against the owner of the tree, Hampshire Council, on the basis that they should have done more. Without going in to the case in detail, it is clear that Hampshire Council had, and has, a defendable tree management system in place.  Trees were surveyed on a suitably regular basis and recommended works actioned.  The tree owner (Hampshire Council) out-sourced the surveying to a qualified and suitably trained surveyor.  The failure occurred during inclement weather.  We can’t sustainably manage our tree resource to withstand storms or torrential rain.  Get the basics in place and the rest will work.

For me, the key ingredients are: Do you know what trees you have, and where they are?  Have those which are within influencing distance of targets been surveyed within the past five years, and more recently if needed?  Do you have details of the survey records?  Has safety work been identified with timescales for action?  Has any urgent work been actioned, or scheduled for action?

Life happens.  Mistakes happen.  The key ingredient is to be informed, and then to demonstrate that you have taken reasonable action.  Ignorance is NO defence.  Torrential rain or storms CAN be.

And it is important to demonstrate that you have done your best, as a reasonable person!

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