FALLEN trees blown down during Storm Arwen are being removed from John Muir Country Park.

Timber harvesting operations got under way this week in Hedderwick Plantation, west of West Barns, to clear the extensive windblow damage caused by the storm in November 2021.

The work is being undertaken by the landowner as part of a long-term management plan to reopen the woodland area and improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity across the site.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “Forestry machinery will be cutting the fallen trees and transporting the timber to stacking areas for uplift by lorries.

“Where safe to do so, all standing trees will be retained, as well as standing deadwood for habitat benefit.

“Leaning and dangerous trees will be removed to keep the area safe.

“Path closures will only be in place while machinery is working and ‘No Public Access’ signs will be in place. Please respect these.

“Contractors will try to keep path closures to a minimum and only at essential times and locations. Be aware that harvesting machines have significant risk zones while working, so keep a distance of at least 100m of working machinery.”

Storm devastation

Storm Arwen took place from November 25 to 27, 2021, and saw gusts of up to 177kmph (110mph) recorded.

Three men died during the storm, while trains running north of Newcastle were also halted.

The council spokesperson added: “It has been decided, with relevant authorities, that surveying the area prior to work commencing is not possible due to the risks involved. Historical knowledge and records of the site are being utilised to plan operations.

“During operations, a process of continuous surveying and monitoring for wildlife and sensitive habitats will be in place.

“The same approach is being used for any unknown archaeological artefacts or buried ordnance (which is reported in the area but has unknown location).

“Any work will be halted if required and further investigation carried out.”

Following the clearance of the ground, the area will be restocked with a range of predominantly native broadleaf trees and naturally regenerating plants.