Newcastle’s parks and green spaces, like many areas across the North East of England and the east coast of Scotland, have felt the devastating impact of Storm Arwen.
The storm was so severe the Met Office issued a rare red weather warning as winds of up to 98mph battered our region.
Extent of the damage
The true scale of the damage to our green spaces became clear on Saturday 27 November after our rangers were able to safely assess all 33 parks. Around 400 trees across our estate have been uprooted or severely damaged. We’ve also seen a small amount of damage to fencing in some of our parks.
Our ranger team’s response was immediate and they have been working continuously since the storm hit to support critical infrastructure works – such as clearing roads and rights of way etc – and ensuring our green spaces remain safe places for people to visit.
We’ve now addressed all immediate high-risk areas across our parks, although a number of medium and lower-risk trees still need attention, so please continue to take care when out and about. We are now focusing on the wider clean up effort, which we expect to take a number of weeks.
Support and assistance
We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the people that have volunteered their time to support us in the parks since the storm hit, particularly our Urban Green Volunteers and the many Friends of Groups that have worked in partnership with us on the clean up effort. We received offers of support immediately following the storm and we are extremely grateful to everyone who got in touch and offered support.
We’d also like to acknowledge the support of The Skill Mill and our contractors who have again gone the extra mile to support our charity and keep our parks safe and open.
Thank you also to everyone that sent pictures and locations of fallen and damaged trees in the days after Storm Arwen. Your assistance was a huge help in mapping the scale of the damage.
Significant areas of damage
Havannah and Three Hills Nature Reserve has suffered particularly badly, especially in the dense woodland areas. We’d like to urge visitors to the reserve to please stay on the main paths and avoid going into the woodland areas. The main paths have been cleared and are safe to use. The operation to clear the damage in the woodland areas may take some months and areas could be unsafe, particularly around unstable and damaged trees.
Visitors to Jesmond Dene will be sad to hear a notable Turkey Oak tree has also been uprooted by the storm. This particular tree had a long and proud history in the park, having been planted by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1884 to mark the opening of Jesmond Dene to the public following the gifting of the park to the city by Lord Armstrong. We plan to commemorate this tree and will be looking at how we can do this in the new year.
A large sycamore tree at The Spinney in Heaton has also been brought down by Storm Arwen. It was planted – along with other sycamore – in remembrance of the men and boys that lost their lives in the 1815 Heaton Main Colliery mining disaster. We will look to replant this tree in the new year.
Continuing recovery works
Whilst we continue with our recovery works, we would like to urge members of the public and regular park users to please remain safe when visiting our city’s green spaces. Whilst we are prioritising immediate safety works first, there may be some trees or wooded areas that remain hazardous, and some damaged trees may shift over the coming weeks. Please continue to be vigilant and avoid areas that could be unsafe.
We expect works to continue for many weeks, and because of that there will be some areas of our parks that continue to show some storm damage, for example, blocked paths, or fallen/damaged trees. We will get to each and every site, and we’d like to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding whilst we do so.
Supporting Newcastle’s green spaces
Storm Arwen was an unprecedented incident that has caused widespread damage to our city’s parks. We want to assure members of the public and park users that we are working tirelessly to restore our green spaces to their former glory.
If you would like to support our charity’s work, please consider making a donation via our Just Giving page. All contributions will make a huge difference.
On behalf of everyone at Urban Green Newcastle, we’d like to thank you for your help and support at this very challenging time for our small charity.