LANDOWNERS should take stock before clearing storm-damaged trees or accepting offers to remove them, according to rural property experts.

Farmers and estate owners should carefully assess fallen timber for its proper value before taking them away or handing the problem of clearing them to what may appear to be well meaning timber experts in the wake of Storm Arwen.

Thousands of properties in Scotland and the North of England were still without power in recent days, a week after the powerful weather system wreaked havoc on homes, businesses and farms. Meanwhile, rural populations are bracing for Storm Barra.

“It’s tempting to quickly clear away the mess so people can repair damage and get on with business,” said Athole McKillop, Partner and Head of Forestry at Galbraith, the independent property consultancy. “But it’s vital that they are selective. In putting this ugly episode behind them, some owners do not appear to appreciate the financial value of timber uprooted or blown down on their properties.”

“Amid the chaos they should pause – and if necessary seek expert advice. Whilst it is important to assess and quickly act where trees present a danger, in other situations the true value should be given full consideration – how is the market reacting, do I have the legal requirements in place to clear blown timber and importantly, are the contractors doing the work competent to do so?

"In addition, trees which are still on the root can stay in place for a long time without deterioration, so is it necessary to jump in straight away?,” said Mr McKillop.

“We’ve heard from estates where visitors have appeared offering to remove storm-damaged trees – not only individuals but representatives of commercial forestry firms,” said Senior Associate Louise Alexander, a Forester at Galbraith’s Inverness office.

“Sometimes it will be important to act swiftly to clear debris, but in cases where it’s not causing a problem, it may be better to wait until, say, the spring, to achieve full value and without time pressure.”