A REPORT which prompted the official closure of Helensburgh’s Duchess Wood was “over-zealous”, the chair of the wood’s local nature reserve committee has said.

But Councillor Lorna Douglas's comments have been strongly refuted by the company which produced the document.

The wood was closed to the public last June on safety grounds after TD Trees carried out a survey of the local nature reserve.

But the company's report was not made available to councillors, or the public, until September – and the wood did not officially reopen until earlier this month.

READ MORE: Helensburgh wood reopens after eight-month closure over 'safety issues'

Councillor Douglas's comments came as she praised the Argyll and Bute Council workers who made the area safe.

Speaking at a meeting of the 'local nature reserve committee', which manages the wood, this week, she said: "“The work is much appreciated.

"The survey and reaction was a bit over-zealous, but I’m just glad that the wood has opened again.”

A spokesperson for TD Trees said in response: “It is the duty of the land owner, under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984, to maintain the land and any structures or trees thereon to minimise risk to any persons who may enter that land.

READ MORE: Council slammed for 'lack of transparency' over Duchess Wood's closure

“Having a survey carried out and acting on the recommendations of that survey would fulfil the duty of care in the above mentioned Act.

“Our surveyors are trained in inspecting trees to identify potential hazards which could present a danger to life.

“We have presented our survey to the land owner with the expectation that they will act on the findings of that survey.

“The report reflects the conditions we found. We have identified clearly dangerous trees which have a higher than normal chance of failure.

“In this case it is our understanding that no budget could be found to carry out the necessary remedial works, and therefore they have had no option but to close the park.

READ MORE: Duchess Wood report finally made public by officials – three months after safety closure

“We support this decision –  imagine if a fairground remained open despite a report telling them that the rides were dangerous.  

"Such decisions can lead to prosecutions and corporate manslaughter charges.”

Larry Malone, of the Argyll and Bute Council’s amenity services team, had told the meeting on Tuesday: “I didn’t realise how many fences were missing until I started doing them.

"In fairness, I was allowed to spend whatever it took to get it done.

“There is no point in beating around the bush – the trees I did, you wouldn’t even let a dog or a child into those areas.

READ MORE: Helensburgh councillor blasts Duchess Wood 'communications fiasco'

“They were over in the deep forest, and of course you will get trees falling down in there, but this was in an area where we weren’t going to get hurt.

“We took a lot of trees down, but the wood has now re-opened and there is no danger to life.”

Argyll and Bute Council is due to give up the running of the wood later this year, with full control reverting to the landowner, Luss Estates.

Martin Grafton, secretary of the Friends of Duchess Wood, told the meeting: “Health and safety took the action we had been calling for from the very beginning, which was a hazard assessment.

READ MORE: Councillors vote to walk away from management of popular Helensburgh woodland

“What I find frustrating, while I am very grateful for your hard work, is that the wood was shut in June, and it is a real shame.

“Had we had a health and safety guide go round in June, we could have had it open much sooner.”

Stephen Brookfield, also from the council’s amenity services, said: “If any trees were going to come down, they would have done so by now with the stormy weather we have recently had.”

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest news headlines from around Helensburgh and Lomond here