Storms prove a boon for St Albans tree companies

Trees chopped down at St Peter's Church in St Albans after recent stormy weather

Trees chopped down at St Peter's Church in St Albans after recent stormy weather - Credit: Matt Adams/Archant

The UK’s recent record-breaking weather and flooding have resulted in a cash crop for at least one St Albans business.

And in the city, churchgoers are counting their blessings after a toppled cypress is to be carved into something more useful than firewood.

While storms have been bringing trees down across the district, demand has gone up for their clearance.

Kevin Woodham, manager of Bartlett Tree Experts in Radlett, said the firm had benefitted with a 50 per cent increase in enquiries for clearing trees toppled during gales since December.

He said: “Business is booming. People are looking at their trees in their back gardens and if they haven’t been maintained, they are getting in contact with us.”

One of the many emergency call-outs for Bartlett was on Loom Lane in Radlett, where a 70ft-high cedar fell onto two vehicles in a driveway.

A motorist driving a van at the time the tree fell was lucky to escape injury.

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Kevin said the cedar damaged both vehicles.

He added: “Our staff have been run off their feet. We have also been helping councils clear trees from public places.”

But he admitted the recent weather had resulted in “very weird” conditions.

Trees were at greater risk of toppling because of the unusual combination of their roots anchored in constantly saturated soil and then buffeted by gale force winds.

In St Albans city centre, St Peter’s Church is collaborating with the University of Hertfordshire to turn a toppled cypress into a story-telling chair and benches.

Church manager Moira Dean said the tree was brought down in recent gales, “but we have a plan to do something creative with it”.

Once given a new lease of life, the chair and benches will be placed in the churchyard for visitors.

The Met Office has described winter as “exceptional” in its duration, and record-breaking, with its run of storms and persistent flooding.

Winter storms have led to the wettest December to January period in the UK since records began.

Herts county council has had a busy time clearing up flood and storm damage, which has had a major impact on roads.

Cllr Terry Douris, cabinet member for highways, said crews were “working hard” to repair damage.

He said the council has applied to the government for additional funding to help repair damaged roads, as it will “take time and money”.

Cllr Douris said the council would also investigate, “whether we can do better in either our immediate response or routine maintenance work”.