Belfast Telegraph

Tree left lying perilously on power lines removed 48 hours after resident's call

By Allan Preston

A tree resting dangerously on power lines in Lisburn has been cleared three days after it was first reported.

Local resident Robert Wilkinson (75) first raised the alarm about the hazard on the Ballymacash Road on Wednesday - the same day Storm Ali battered the province.

The strong winds caused the tragic death of 24-year-old electrician Robert Matthew Campbell, who was killed by a falling tree in Slieve Gullion Forest Park in Co Armagh.

After Mr Wilkinson informed this newspaper yesterday that the situation had still not been addressed, Northern Ireland Electricity was contacted and attended the scene within hours.

"I've spent over two days telling as many people about it as possible," said Mr Wilkinson.

"I was literally getting nowhere. I told the police it was dangerous and they put up a closed road sign but - typical of Northern Ireland - most people were still driving around it anyway.

"What was worse still, a learner driver with her instructor beside her still carried on.

"I would laugh if it wasn't so dangerous. I reported it to NI Direct, and then when I tried to contact NIE I was put from pillar to post.

"When I got to the right section I was told; 'we're busy you'll have to ring back later'. It's disastrous.

"I know it's a very busy week with the storm, but I would expect within 48 hours they should have at least been looking at it.

"Thankfully, it's taken care of now but it was an accident waiting to happen."

Another resident said the danger meant he was unable to leave his daughter at her regular school bus stop.

After being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, NIE arranged for the area to be made safe yesterday afternoon.

A spokesman thanked Mr Wilkinson for raising the matter and added: "The focus has been getting our customers back on their supply. We initially assessed the road wasn't blocked and there wasn't a disruption in the electric supply, but the area has now been made safe."

Elsewhere, NIE Networks emergency crews were working hard yesterday to restore power to the remaining 600 customers left out of 90,000 homes and businesses affected by the storm.

Customers are being asked to report damage by telephoning 03457 643 643.

Belfast Telegraph

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