A trial has been launched to help improve the collection of fallen trees across Oxfordshire in an attempt to improve safety and save money.
Oxfordshire County Council’s (OCC) experiment will mean dangerous fallen trees will be removed from the county’s roads by the fire and rescue service instead of private contractors.
At the moment the county council’s contractors deal with all fallen trees, but council chiefs believe that in many circumstances a “blue light” response will be able to restore safety and traffic flows quicker, as well as saving money.
The work will be carried out by OCC’s Fire and Rescue Service chainsaw trained firefighters from the Specialist Rescue Team and will take responsibility for dealing with any tree that falls on the highway.
County councillor Rodney Rose, deputy leader of OCC, said: “The fire and rescue service is an integral part of the county council and it makes sense that they should use our specialist skills and resources to benefit residents if it can save time, maintain safety and save money.”
Only trees that fall onto roads are to be dealt with by the fire service and trees falling on private land will remain the responsibility of the owners.
The council will still have access to its current tree contractors who will carry out emergency work in the event of high numbers of trees down or if the fire and rescue service is lacking sufficient resources.
County councillor David Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for the environment, said: “Residents will know all about the work that our crews do to rescue people and put out fires, but clearly the range of things that they can help with is quite broad.
“I will be keen to see the results of the trial as it has the potential to provide a faster and more efficient service.”
Around 100 trees were felled in ferocious wind speeds of 94mph during Storm Doris last month.