Lucky escape for Castle Park family as tree falls

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AN Ellon family is counting its blessings after a tree came crashing down just inches from their home during Monday’s high winds.

Gerard McGurk, Kim Hall and daughter Georgina were in their house on Kildrummy Road when the elm tree - between 80 and 100 feet high - came crashing into their garden from the neighbouring woodland, flattening the shed and fence and narrowly missing the house.

“I was in the shed just five minutes before the tree came down,” said Gerard.

“Our dog was in the garden, hiding under a bush because she was afraid of the wind. It was lucky she wasn’t anywhere near the shed.

“The trees were rotten and diseased: looking at the roots, it doesn’t seem as if there was anything particularly holding this one up.”

He added that the garden shed wasn’t a big loss, but that it was a miracle that the tree hadn’t hit the house.

“There were the usual garden tools and a lawnmower in the shed. The tree just clipped the side of the house, but fortunately a smaller tree we had planted near the patio bore most of the brunt.”

Kim Hall, who is depute rector at Ellon Academy, told the Times that the confusion over who is responsible for maintaining the woodlands at Castle Park could potentially cost lives.

“Does someone need to die before something is done to make these trees safe?” she asked.

The near miss comes as the latest and most dramatic event to-date in the long-running saga surrounding the maintenance of the woods at Castle Park.

Residents argue that the trees are dangerous, with many rotten and unstable. However disputes remain over who exactly is responsible for their maintenance.

Developer Barratt, who constructed most of the development, retains ownership of most of the woodlands surrounding the property. However, Barratt have argued that they are not responsible for the maintenance of the trees, pointing to clauses in the deeds of Castle Park householders which commit residents to maintenance of the woodlands themselves.