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Caring for Our Heritage - Tree Preservation Orders

Trees form a vital part of the natural heritage of the British Isles and as such, are rightly protected by a number of means.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
When a tree is protected by a tree preservation order, no work may be carried out upon it unless the appropriate permissions have been granted. This involves submitting a detailed proposal, laying out exactly what is going to be done and by whom. There is no guarantee that the permission will be granted just because the form has been submitted, and the best way by far to get permission is to have the form filled in by an experienced, professional arborist. Councils apply TPOs where a tree may be under threat, of particular scientific or historic interest, or it can be seen from a public place and altering or removing it would materially affect the landscape.

If you are planning to carry out work on a tree that has a tree preservation order then it is absolutely necessary to get a tree survey done.? Usually the work that needs to be done on a TPO tree may consist of taking down a tree that is dying, or cutting down parts of a tree that are dead or significantly ageing.? A tree survey will be able to tell you and the council whether or not the tree should be taken down.

If a tree survey is not done then it is offence to work on a tree with a TPO and you can be heavily fined.

Conservation areas
Here it gets a little more involved. There can be trees inside a conservation area that do not have TPOs. To carry out work on these trees, the same paperwork must be submitted, but is more of a formality. However, if the tree in question is within a conservation area and it has a Tree Preservation Order in force, then you are especially in need of a tree survey to prove that the work absolutely needs to be done.

Highways Agency
The only exceptions to the above rules apply to the Highways Agency, who can reduce or remove trees that constitute a hazard on existing public thoroughfares.

There is help at hand

To help you with the paperwork, Sean Wright will complete and submit the application to reduce or remove trees with TPOs in place on your behalf. By making a thorough survey of the tree before completing the necessary forms is a vital step. Only a thorough assessment of the tree's condition can offer an accurate guide to the treatment required. Having completed such a survey, the paperwork can be completed in an authoritative tone of voice, stating exactly what needs to be done. This can cut the time taken in assessing the application before appropriate action can be taken. See our tree surveys page for more details.

Caring for Our Heritage - Bats and Birds

There are many species of bat living in the UK and some that visit us at certain times of year. Bats are all protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981as amended, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994, and no work that disturbs the roost may be carried out on a tree that has a bat population roosting in it, even if the roost is not occupied at the time.

Sean Wright has team members qualified in bat assessment who can categorically state whether or not your tree has any bats living in it, and whether or not planned works can proceed.

Birds are protected too

Likewise, birds living in a tree are protected. No work can be carried out that would disturb the avian population. Luckily, evidence of birds is easier to spot than with bats so less special training is needed to assess the risk. However, if in doubt it is always safer to ask a qualified arborist to make sure you stay on the right side of the conservation laws.

Sean Wright follows the best practice guidelines as adopted by many local authorities:
Timing of works

  • To reduce the chance of disturbing a bat roost, it is important to avoid the summer (breeding season) and winter (hibernation) months.
  • Works to trees with potential for bats is best done from late August to early
    October when young bats are mobile and on the wing, female bats are
    unlikely to be pregnant and the hibernation season has not yet begun.
  • March to April is also a suitable time, though consideration should also be
    given for nesting birds as these are also protected by law.
  • Crown pruning and minor tree works can also be completed over the winter
    months. The removal of potential roost sites during this time should be
    avoided, as some bat species hibernate in trees.
Best practice methods:
  • Keep tree work to a minimum retaining all potential roosts where possible.
  • A precautionary inspection of the tree(s) by the tree work contractor looking for signs of bats should be carried out before starting work. This should include an inspection of all holes and niches using a torch and preferably an endoscope. If bats or signs of bats are found, no work should start and English Nature should be contacted for further advice.
  • Where possible, avoid cross cutting in proximity to cavities or hollows.
  • Limbs with internal fissures should be pruned carefully to maintain integrity of features as potential roost sites.
  • Any sections felled containing cavities should be lowered carefully and left on the ground (preferably for 24 hours) with the openings clear, allowing anything inside an opportunity to escape.
  • Split limbs that are under tension may need to be wedged open to prevent their closure when pressure is released, potentially trapping bats
If ivy covers areas of a tree's trunk or branches, there is roosting potential behind it. In addition, potential roosts in the tree may also be hidden behind the ivy. Dealing with ivy-covered trees depends on the amount of growth. If there is a thick mass of ivy growth, it may be practical to consider felling the tree on the basis that the thickness of the foliage will soften the fall and reduce the shock. This tree can then be inspected on the ground and if possible left for 24hours, before section cutting. If the tree is only partially covered, pruning or sectioning may be more appropriate. If the works are not urgent, cutting the ivy at its base and completing the work when the ivy is dead, thus reducing the bat roosting potential,l should be considered. However, where stems of ivy create a dense mass against the trunk, there will always be roosting potential.

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