Tree Reports are frequently requested where expert opinion is required, usually where some form of conflicting opinion arises or just where further information is needed. Often the solutions are obvious and indisputable once all the relevant information and evidence is gathered in one place. Ben Riches holds the Level 6 Professional Diploma in Arboriculture (PD Arb) and has been working full-time in arboriculture since 1998, operating within the rules and ethical standards of The Arboricultural Association. Knowledge is kept current by regular attendance at specialist seminars, conferences and study events; understanding is enhanced by continuing to work in the practical side of arboriculture.
Planning and Development
When seeking planning permission trees are considered a material constraint. Planners will need to know the impact a proposed development will have on the trees on and adjacent to the site before they can make a decision. They will want to know the immediate impacts, such as which trees will be removed, and the longer-term impacts such as whether trees will cause a nuisance and need remedial works after the development has been built. The request will likely refer to British Standard 5837:2012 ‘Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition, and Construction – Recommendations’.
A planning application may need to include:
- Tree Survey: to assess the quality of the trees and potential for them to contribute to the public benefit
- Tree Constraints Plan: to identify the extent of crown spreads and minimum areas of ground to be protected for roots of trees considered worthy of being retained, and identify which trees will be removed
- Arboricultural Impact Assessment: to consider how changes around retained trees will impact the trees and how the trees may impact the development in the future
- Provisional Tree Protection Plan: to indicate the protective measures necessary to retain the trees successfully throughout the development
- Outline Arboricultural Method Statement: indicating measures that will likely be necessary to protect the retained trees
The granting of planning permission may be on condition that the protective measures are detailed and agreed to ensure the trees are protected as proposed:
- Arboricultural Method Statement: detailing all methods used and how each tree will be protected at all times throughout the development
- Tree Protection Plan: detailing the protective measures
- Site Monitoring: Where consent has been granted on condition trees are protected and the risks are high it may be preferable to engage an arboriculturist to ensure compliance and avoid complications relating to a breach of planning conditions
Retaining trees on development sites can cause inconvenience and annoyance but is a necessary hassle if we are to have appealing places to live and work. If it is embraced wholeheartedly the end result is a development with aesthetic appeal and maturity and, when all things are considered, added value.
For more information please visit our Knowledge base - Planning & Development
Health and Safety Inspections and Surveys
As tree owners we are obliged to take ‘reasonable’ and ‘proportionate’ care to ensure our trees do not cause harm through foreseeable risks. What is reasonable and proportionate will vary according to each situation but some good guidance is given by The National Tree Safety Group. Surveys can give a broad understanding of the tree population and identify which trees may need to be inspected more closely. Once the condition of the tree is better understood the risks can be assessed and, balanced against the benefits the tree provides, recommendations on how to maintain an acceptable level of risk given.
For more information please visit our Knowledge base – Tree Inspections & Reports
Home Buyers, Insurance, and Mortgage Reports
Lenders and insurers often want to know what risks they are taking when it comes to trees near property, primarily in relation to subsidence risk. While it is not possible to predict whether a property will suffer subsidence due to trees and vegetation there are certain factors which increase the risks. Identifying which risk factors are present can help inform the home purchaser and lenders in how to manage the trees to maintain an acceptable level of risk.
General Tree Management
There may be no specific need for advice but advice and help in making decisions about how to manage trees in general can give you maximum benefit from the trees and plan for the longer-term benefits. Sometimes verbal advice is all that is needed to give the confidence to go ahead with a project.
For more information please visit our Knowledge base – Tree Management
Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas
Trees come within the Town and Country Planning Act and as such significant trees offering public benefit can be given legal protection. Tree cannot however be ‘preserved’ and their values change as they grow but the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) gives the Local Planning Authority the ability to control works. Whether you wish to object to a TPO being placed on a tree, apply for consent to carry out works to a protected tree, or appeal a decision made regarding an application then an arboriculturist can provide advice and assistance in getting a successful outcome.
For more information please visit our Knowledge base – Tree Preservation Orders
Subsidence of buildings can be a complicated issue to resolve, typically involving a team of professionals. Where it is identified that foundations are moving, trees are present, and the soils are shrinkable clays then an arboriculturist can assist in identifying the cause and recommending the remedy. When the tree and home owner are not the same, or if the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order, then evidence will need to be gathered and presented.
For more information please visit our Knowledge base – Subsidence
Hedges and Boundaries
Where trees grow on boundaries, they can give rise to conflicts. Knowing the facts, obligations, and rights can go some way to alleviate these conflicts, although not always.
For more information please visit our Knowledge base – Hedges & Boundaries
Root damage investigation
Roots grow wherever they find suitable conditions, typically in the upper horizons of soil. When woody roots come into direct contact with relatively light structures, such as walls and paths, they can exert sufficient pressure to lift them and cause damage. Where this is the case, the only real remedy is to remove the roots (and most probably the tree) or to have an engineered design to accommodate the tree roots and the structure together.
For more information please visit our Knowledge base – Roots
Conflict of Interest?
Providing advice as well as the practical solution could be viewed as creating a conflict of interest, recommending works for the sake of generating tree work. If the advice given does not put you, the one making the final decision, in an informed position with clear justification then it has not done its job properly. If there are any works recommended, they will be clearly justified with measurable specifications. This will enable you to gain quotes for work in a way that is fair and comparable.