UKTC Archive

RE: Chapman v LB Barking & Dagenham

Subject: RE: Chapman v LB Barking & Dagenham
From: David Evans
Date: Dec 29 2003 13:12:05
<<A key part of the case appears
to hinge around the existence of bacteria on the stump and some staining
shown on pictures of the offending branch (the whole tree had been removed)
and the appeal judges said,

"Fortunately they left the stump, and it is common ground that (as the judge
found) the stump was diseased and the bacteria causing its decay were
active. "

He found that the cut surface of the stump showed an
area of stained wood consistent with incipient decay. He took two cores by
way of sample and those cores showed high populations of bacteria. Those
investigations satisfied Mr Rose first that the active bacteria indicated
that the decay had travelled down the tree rather than up from the roots,
and second that the presence of active bacteria showed that the bacteria
enjoyed a source of oxygen from a wound open to admit air higher up the
tree. In his opinion the indications were that the decay had come from the
area of the fork between the two main limbs of the tree left after the third
limb had fallen.">>

<<What does all this mean?>>

Hi John

Seasons' greetings.

I read the appeal link and there are some curious anomalies, but as to the
point you raise.

Aside from the fact that it is readily apparent that the Judge did not
understand the physiology of decay fungi, the bacterium ID is interesting
because bacteria are not considered to cause significant decay per se.
Indeed, the bacteria commonly found in wetwood create, and are able
tolerate, relatively anaerobic conditions that are actually hostile to
colonisation by decay fungi and the subsequent degradation of wood.  It
would appear that the aerobic bacteria identified are alleged to be
significant because they indicate oxygenation and dysfunction of the tissue
in the stump, connected to, and originating from an open wound above it.
But given that the tree was cut down I would not have that it would be at
all surprising to find active bacteria in a stump that very obviously
enjoyed a ready source of oxygen.

I remember talking to David Rose about the particulars of this case many
moons ago, but don't recollect the aerobic bacteria colonisation in the
stump as being a significant component of evidence.  I am sufficiently
intrigued though to follow this up and ask him about it.  The Alice Holt mob
are all away until next year.  If I get any info that might be of use, I'll
post it on the forum.

Does any have the transcript of the original trial containing any further
details of the bacterium involved?

As an aside, the appeal notes also neatly illustrate the fundamental
distinction that is necessary between hazard assessment and risk assessment.


Acer ventura

PS If I don't post again beforehand, I hope everyone has a very Happy New

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