A NORTON woman and her children were lucky to avoid harm when a massive tree in their garden crashed into the street as Storm Doris wreaked havoc across the country.

The “enormous” Scots pine fell right across Greyhound Lane at around noon yesterday (Thursday) blocking the road completely.

Mum-of-two Claire Haywood-Dunn, aged 41, said: “It was much bigger than the house – luckily it fell across the road. If it had fallen in the opposite direction it would have fallen on my house.”

Incredibly, however, she has now been told by Dudley Council that she will be billed for the clean-up costs to remove the fallen tree – despite previously having been refused permission to have it felled.

She said: “We applied the year before last to have it felled as we thought it was leaning, but they refused.”

Mrs Haywood-Dunn and her husband Andrew said the tree had been listing in high winds, its roots were breaking up the tarmac on their driveway and part of the pavement and pine needles were blocking the drain in the street – causing the road and their garage to flood.

But council planners rejected their application to chop it down as the tree was considered “to provide a high amount of amenity to the surrounding area” and the proposed felling and resulting impact on the area had “not been justified”.

Mrs Haywood-Dunn said: “We wanted to fell it properly because we thought it was dangerous – and everybody in the neighbourhood had wanted it down. It’s been blocking drains, dropping pines and at one point it pulled down the phone line. It was causing so much trouble.”

The couple even appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to try and overturn the decision but their appeal was dismissed in January 2016.

Storm Doris, however, made no bones about it and brought the giant evergreen crashing into the lane as she lashed the UK yesterday.

Mrs Haywood-Dunn said she was "relieved" no-one was hurt and she added: “It actually fell exactly the way everyone thought it was going to.”

What she was not anticipating, however, was being left with a clean-up bill for the tree fall.

She said: “They say we’re liable because it’s a private tree – so we’ve had to agree to pay to clear the highway."

Councillor Hilary Bills, Dudley's cabinet member for environmental services, said: “We acted quickly to remove the tree as it is our duty is to keep the roads clear and, as with any incident of this nature, we will look to recoup the clearance costs from the tree owner.

"This particular tree was subject to a tree preservation order and although we have received requests in recent years for it to be felled, our assessments at the time indicated there were no defects to suggest any instability in the tree, but yesterday’s weather conditions were extreme."

But Mrs Haywood-Dunn responded: "If it had fallen on a car would I be liable for that? What if the tree had killed someone? Would it have been my fault?”