The Arboricultural Association (AA) has issued a statement following a Coronor’s report on the death of a motorist caused by a falling branch of roadside tree. Mr Warren was killed when a branch from a mature oak fell on to his car on the A332 near Ascot racecourse in 2012. The Inquest into the incident found that two Bracknell Forest Council Highways Inspectors drove past the tree two days before the branch failed without noting anything of concern.
The AA has responded to the report, saying:
“The Inquest found that they had not completed any form of tree hazard related training for seven years. The Inspectors were expected to identify a wide range of potential hazards that could impact on road users – from potholes, poor or obscured signage to tree hazards whilst driving along roads at speeds which were described as “rarely less than 30 miles per hour”.
“This tragic accident exposes the risks of taking short cuts when inspecting trees, and the need for good basic and refresher training. Every day millions of motorists and pedestrians use our tree lined roads and yet some Highway Authorities are failing to provide the training and support needed to protect the public. Regular tree checks by trained inspectors is the best means of identifying emerging problems before they deteriorate into significant threats to safety. Our concern is that the failings of Bracknell Forest Council may just be the tip of the iceberg, with other Highway Authorities potentially cost-cutting on essential tree inspection and risk assessment services.
“Our Members are reporting that many Local Authorities are reducing Tree Officer staff in an attempt to cut costs and are passing this work on to council staff who do not hold the required skills, knowledge or expertise.”