Trees and hedges
Trees and hedgerows are valuable for many reasons. They provide us with oxygen, help with pollution, reduce the sound of traffic, make our towns and villages more pleasant and attractive, and add value to our properties. They provide essential habitats for our wildlife and provide a living link to the past.
The many benefits of trees are probably taken for granted by most of us.
At the council we deal with applications for works to trees in a conservation area and those protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). A list of TPOs and links to maps showing designated conservation areas are available to view below. Information provided is for guidance only and we always advise that you check with us prior to works being undertaken.
We do not provide specialist advice regarding tree works, therefore if you intend to undertake works to trees which fall within either of the above, to allow us to consider your application, please provide as much information with your submission, including all details of work/s. If works are to trees protected by a TPO, it is your responsibility to seek independent advice from a tree specialist, including reasons and details of proposed works, all of which we require as part of your submission. We have provided helpful guidance for you to refer too regarding advice on hiring tree work contractors.
Further information is also available regarding
Tree Preservation Orders
As the local planning authority we are responsible for Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
Many thousands of trees throughout the district are protected by TPOs. The number is added to each year as our aim is to protect healthy trees which are in danger of being lost. If you are aware of an imminent threat to any tree, group of trees or a wood, please let us know.
A TPO is a piece of statute law that comes under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999.
The law helps protect valuable trees which contribute to an area's landscape and amenity. TPO trees are usually mature, of good form and, most importantly, can be clearly seen from a public area. However, other factors are also relevant such as historic value, practical value (for example, screening, sound suppression) and as a habitat for protected wildlife. View criteria for issuing a TPO.
Identifying a tree which has an existing TPO
Please call customer services on 01636 650000 who will be able to help you find out whether a tree has a TPO. We are in the process of reviewing the register and an update will be available shortly.
Also all trees that grow within a conservation area which attain the size criteria will also have legal protection under the same Act.
Carrying out work on protected trees
Prior to carrying out any work on a tree protected by a preservation order or conservation area controls, permission must be sought from the district council.
For further guidance and details on how to submit your tree work application.
Trees in a conservation area
Conservation areas are usually found in the most historic parts of our towns and villages. The buildings and structures there are usually of an historic nature (some of which may be listed) and the trees have a very important place within these special areas.
View further information relating to conservation areas in the district (including maps showing the location of each of our conservation areas).
In conservation areas you will often find very old trees, some as old as or even older than the buildings. But it's not just the old trees that make a significant contribution. Younger trees are trees of the future, and are sometimes protected to create green havens and ensure an area remains green in years to come, long after the veteran trees have gone.
The way the trees are protected in a conservation area is different to that of tree preservation orders. A conservation area is a clearly defined area within a settlement that usually encompasses many properties. Any tree within this defined boundary becomes subject to the protection of the conservation area.
Prior to carrying out any work on a tree within conservation areas permission must be sought from us.
View guidance and details on how to submit your tree work application (link to National Planning Portal)
By completing the application enables an assessment to be made of the works needed, and the threat to the tree, so that a Tree Preservation Order may be made if need be to ensure that important trees remain.
Searching for properties in a conservation area
You can check if a property is within or simply view the extent of a conservation area by using our online Local View system.
Choosing the right tree
You have to think quite carefully about which tree to plant.
If you want your tree to be good for wildlife, native species are usually best. Trees which provide fruit and nuts are also good. And if you want your tree to look pretty, choose one which has flowers or colourful fruit or leaves.
Not all trees will be happy in your grounds, so you'll need to look at what type of trees grow well in your area. What are your grounds like? If the soil is hard or dry, then maybe trees from hotter countries might feel more at home such as a cherry.
Young trees are cheaper than bigger ones and usually settle in faster. You also need to think about how tall and wide your tree will be when it's fully grown. Will the roots and branches damage any nearby buildings or paths?
Visit the Royal Horticultural Society website for advice on choosing and planting trees.
Advice on hiring tree work contractors
Pruning trees at any height or using dangerous tools are jobs where you should only consider using a skilled tree surgeon or arboriculturalist. As well as the safety aspect there is also the need to be confident that the operations being undertaken are in the best interest of the trees.
The operatives should be using the correct safety equipment for the task in hand.
Hiring the right person
One of the best place to find a suitable contractor is in the Arboricultural Association's register of approved contractors http://www.trees.org.uk/ or telephone 01242 - 522152. They will be able to supply you with a list of firms in the local area which meets their high professional standards. The web site offers many other useful pieces of advice for you to consider.
Another recognised body is the International Society of Arboriculture.
Reputation is also a good indicator. Most good, professional firms pride themselves on their reputation by word of mouth and work very hard to maintain it. You also have the benefit of being able to inspect previous works done for friends or family.
Avoid firms that promote 'Topping & Lopping' in their advertisements, as these are very outmoded terms and may reflect a lack of knowledge of modern arboricultural techniques or general good tree management. Remember a badly pruned tree will always look like a badly pruned tree, you have to live with it!
Look for firms that work to British Standard 3998:2010 Recommendations for Tree Work. This British Standard ensures precise and sound pruning techniques that promote safe and healthy pruning.
Look for firms that have had their employees NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council) assessed. This means their skill has been certified by the body that assesses competence in tree works.
Ensure that the firm is suitably insured to work on your property. A minimum of £1million pound public & products liability cover is adequate although £5 million is ideal, in addition to employers liability insurance.
If a company states they are ‘local authority approved, check with the relevant local authority that they are. We do not provide an approved list.
Ask lots of questions. You will get a good idea of how well a contractor knows his subject by how willing he is to give sound answers for your queries.
Good firms will always check if the tree they are working on is protected by a tree preservation order or if it is protected by a conservation area. Are they prepared to submit an application to us on your behalf as part of their business service to you?
Ensure that they will dispose of the debris legally and have the appropriate ‘waste transfer licence’. You may be faced with a heavy fine if fly-tipped material is traced back to you.
If the contractors are working on a boundary tree you will need to notify your neighbour of the works as the entry of the operatives, even into their airspace will technically constitute a trespass.
Be sure that if you have a contractor working on a protected tree, they have the appropriate permission in writing if they have been your agents in the application process. Ask them to provide you with a copy of the council’s letter for your records.
Remember! Never put yourself or others at risk - Leave it to the professionals.