In January 2012 a lime tree on a small piece of land owned by Witley Parish Council behind the bus stop on the Petworth Road fell down in high winds onto a bus, causing injury to the driver of the bus. The driver pursued a claim against the Parish Council seeking compensation for the injury suffered.
The Council is insured against such claims and the case is being dealt with by the insurer. In December 2016 the case came to the High Court in London. The Judge heard evidence that the tree had a fungal infection at its base which contributed to the in the fall in high winds. The Parish Council had followed national guidelines that stated that tree surveys should be carried out every three to five years. The Judge found that if the tree had been surveyed every two years then the fungus would have been detected earlier and action would have been taken before the tree fell.
The Judgement, and its wider implications for all landowners generally is being actively considered by the insurers and their lawyers. It is possible that further steps will be taken through the courts to consider the issues.