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Community / Elderly Yell resident ‘distraught’ after trees cut by power company

SSEN says ‘everything we undertook was in line with the details agreed’

Ruth Underwood in her garden.

AN ELDERLY Yell resident says she has been left devastated after several trees in her garden were cut down by power company SSEN – after thinking they would just be trimmed.

Ruth Underwood, 85, from Otterswick, has a large garden with trees she planted with her late husband, Bill, more than 20 years ago.

An aerial survey conducted by SSEN earlier this year identified her property as having trees that may interfere with overhead cables, and the company contacted Ruth to notify her that some of the trees would need to be trimmed to avert danger to the lines.

They informed her a team from the mainland would be sent up to Shetland as there was no-one on the island to do the work.

Underwood explained how it was not until last Sunday (24 September) that a team arrived at her property.

“I had been at the craft fair at the Burravoe hall and arrived home,” she said.

“I went down my garden to see what the team had done and I was met with this devastation.

“I was absolutely distraught. I thought they were just going to trim the tops off the trees but whole trees have been cut down, about 15 at least and bushes removed that would never grow to the height of a power line.”

SSEN policy is to ensure that overhead power lines are not restricted by branches or vegetation.

A spokesperson for SSEN Distribution said in a statement that the work planned had been discussed in advance with the customer – with consent forms signed.

“In June this year a member of our surveying team spoke with the customer to explain why the work was required, and how much clearance would be needed between the trees and our lines,” they said.

“With understanding and agreement, the customer signed the necessary consent forms for our teams to ‘reduce and fell’ the relevant trees, which as the term suggest, covers the pruning and actual felling of trees.

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“Prior to the works being undertaken earlier this month, our tree-cutters also went over the work that they’d be doing, and everything we undertook was in line with the details agreed.”

However, Underwood feels “there was no care taken”.

“These were very established trees but also small bushes,” she said.

“SSE said they would leave the garden tidy but they certainly haven’t left it that way. They’ve destroyed it with no respect given for the fact this is a small garden woodland and it’s been clearcut.”

In the meantime, Underwood and a group of friends from her community are aiming to plant shrubs and bushes in the cleared space in the spring.

But she said: “I’m 85 so I’ll not see the benefit of the trees but its more to replace what’s lost. It’s just so sad and I would like to see SSE apologise for the devastation they have caused to my garden.”

By Alex Purbrick

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