A HOMEOWNER fears trees in his garden could kill someone – but he is not allowed to chop them down.
Three of the 70ft beeches on land spanning two properties in Falmouth have already fallen, damaging a home, crushing a car and narrowly missing a group of young people.
The tenants of a property where one crashed onto the roof last week said they “felt lucky to be alive”.
But John and Jenny Muir, whose property near Marlborough School contains seven trees, have been refused permission to remove them as they are protected by law.
Dr Muir is most worried about two on the edge of his property, which are close to where parents park on Silverdale Road while on the school run.
“We are frightened of the trees because they have the potential to cause damage,” he said.
“The trees are close together,” he said. “They are also on the edge of a steep bank.
“If they fell they could kill someone.”
Beech trees’ shallow roots leave them vulnerable to wind, especially in wet conditions.
Last Tuesday, Cornwall Housing tenants Maria and Richard Clark were woken at 5am when a 70ft tree from a neighbouring property fell onto their roof in Marlborough Avenue.
“We thought the house was going to collapse; that we were going to die,” said Mrs Clark. “We felt lucky to be alive. People have been saying this is just a miracle that we weren’t hurt.
“We have always wondered about the trees as they sway in the wind. Cornwall Council principal forestry officer Colin Hawke told us they had tested the trees next to the one that fell and it was safe.
“But he said he can’t guarantee they won’t fall down.
“Whenever the gale-force winds blow, we are on edge. If any of the other trees came down they would crush our house, or the ones next door.”
The tree which damaged the roof was part of a stand woodland as Dr Muir’s neighbour, Marlborough House, which was built in 1810 by Captain John Bull of the Falmouth Packet service.
The tree sat situated less than a metre from Dr Muir’s fence.
Cornwall Housing said it moved the Clarks and will attempt to recover costs from the tree owner.
Five trees have been legally felled on the retired doctor’s land but in 2010 one toppled. He said: “A survey on one of the trees said it was not unsafe. Six months later it fell down and crushed my neighbour’s son’s car.”
“We applied to have the tree taken down.
“We had a survey on it, which said it was not unsafe.
“Six months later it fell down and crushed my neighbour’s son’s car. It was rotten.”
Since then Dr Muir has twice been refused permission to remove the two trees on the edge of his property, plus a third. Appeals against the decisions were refused in October.
Refusing the appeal, planning inspector Roger Prichard said the trees made a substantial contribution to the visual amenity of the area, and as such were rightly subject to a Tree Preservation Order.