Storm Doris has left trees, branches and wood strewn across the Ely and Fenland area but anyone looking to collect it for firewood should be warned they could be stealing

PUBLISHED: 11:12 24 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:12 24 February 2017

The ISS Arboriculture team helping police officers clear fallen trees as #StormDoris hit Wisbech yesterday, Thursday 23. PHOTO: ISS FS Landscaping. People might be tempted to collect wood from trees like this for firewood - but be warned it could be stealing.

The ISS Arboriculture team helping police officers clear fallen trees as #StormDoris hit Wisbech yesterday, Thursday 23. PHOTO: ISS FS Landscaping. People might be tempted to collect wood from trees like this for firewood - but be warned it could be stealing.

Archant

Storm Doris has left a trail of down trees, branches and wood across, roads, paths, fields and parks which may encourage people to go wood collecting.

But you could be breaking the law if you pick it up as technically the wood belongs to the landowner.

Phil Wood, UK & Ireland Country Manager for wood burning stove company, Contura, said: “After a bracingly blowy Thursday, with winds reaching up to 100mph in parts of the country, people are looking on the upside despite the havoc caused, taking to the streets or local parks and woods to stock up on fallen branches and logs for fires and wood burners. But they may well not be aware that doing so is actually illegal.”

Parks, roads and even train lines are strewn with fallen branches following yesterday’s gale force winds brought by Storm Doris.

But contrary to popular belief, all trees in the UK are owned, meaning the seemingly harmless act of taking wood for free could land you in court for theft.

Phil said: “Taking wood may seem like a harmless endeavour, but if you see wood on the ground, whether in woodland, in a park, on the roadside or even just on the streets near your home, this belongs to the land owner – meaning to remove it is in fact stealing if you don’t have the owner’s permission to do so.

“Historically, wood theft was less of an issue, as landed gentry would offer any extra wood to villagers due to their ‘estover’ rights.

“However, nowadays the majority of public-owned woods belong to the Forestry Commission and many people do not realise that helping themselves to wood is an offence, regardless of whether this was caused by strong winds or not. The most serious outcome is the risk of arrest and a potential court case.

“The simplest way to avoid any issues is to contact the landowner to check if you can take or purchase wood found on their land. It’s also possible, for a small fee, to obtain a licence from the Forestry Commission that allows you to legitimately collect wood.”

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