A COUPLE who were warned not to sleep in their bedroom because 200-year-old trees were in danger of crashing down on it have hit out at East Lothian Council for failing to help.

Colin and Helen Hislop were ordered to have a tree expert investigate the condition of a line of ancient beech trees on the boundary of their home when they applied for planning permission for a workshop.

They were stunned when the arboriculturalist came back and told them that two of the 200-year-old trees, which tower over their house at nearly 50ft high, were endangering their home.

The couple immediately circulated the report to several neighbours in Gladsmuir who are responsible for the communal piece of land where the trees stand but received no response.

And when they asked East Lothian Council to intervene, they were told there was nothing that the local authority could do.

Colin, a train driver, said that he was stunned by the council’s refusal to step in.

He said: “In my view, the trees are a statutory nuisance and the council has a duty to act if that is the case. [The trees] are putting me and my wife at risk, as well as other properties on the other side of the land.

“The council demanded we carry out the tree report and when it came back declaring the trees a hazard they refused to get involved.

“In our minds, the council has a responsibility to get involved regardless of whether the trees are on private or public land.

“They have a duty to keep us safe and are simply ignoring it.”

Colin’s wife Helen said they had been left anxious following the report and no longer slept in their master bedroom.

She said: “The arboriculturalist told us he would not sleep in the master bedroom if it was him so now we do not.

“We have done a lot of work on our home over the years to extend it and now it feels as if it is under threat because we know these trees could come down.

“I think the council should do the right thing and get involved to ensure we are safe in our homes. Surely that is their priority?”

The tree report for the Hislops said: “Trees 5 and 6 are considered to be at high and increasing risk of collapse and failure. They are very vulnerable to windblow on what is an exposed site.

“Both trees are within falling distance of the subject property and neighbouring houses to the east. As such, they present a potential hazard and safety liability and their early removal is recommended on arboricultural and safety grounds, irrespective of the development proposal.”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “Councils in Scotland have no powers to require a private land owner to take action where their tree is considered a danger to neighbouring private occupiers.

“In cases where trees that could be considered a danger are on land owned by several private occupiers, the matter must be resolved between the parties either informally or by way of civil action. East Lothian Council would offer this advice in these cases but would not have any legal power to intervene.”