There are some common questions and problems that often arise which we can hopefully answer on this page, so take a look and if you decide you need to call in the experts, visit our contact page
I am concerned about the safety of my trees. Do you have any recommended reading?
In 2011, the National Tree Safety Group published a suite of guidance for tree owners and managers. The guidance, which seeks to encourage tree owners to take a balanced and proportionate approach to tree safety management, is set out in three documents with the overarching guidance in Common sense risk management of trees: Guidance on trees and public safety in the UK for, owners, managers and advisers.
There are also two summary documents, one for estates and smallholdings , and another for householders
The Forestry Commission practice guide Hazards from Trees – A General Guide is freely available to download.
You can also download the Quantified Tree Risk Assessment Practice Note from our sister company’s website. The Practice Note sets out the approach that we take to tree safety assessments. Go to QTRA website
What timescale should I expect from giving instruction to project completion?
We aim for a lead in time of between two and three weeks and to issue our initial outputs within two weeks of our site survey, but if you have a tighter timeline, let us know and we will always do our best to accommodate you.
When I request a quote, which drawings or plans do I need to send?
This varies depending on the project. As a rule of thumb, it is useful to send a drawing or image clearly showing the site boundary and the extent of the survey area. It can be useful to send photographs if you have concerns about particular trees. Where you are planning a new development that has potential to affect existing trees, a plan of your proposal or initial concept will help us to tailor a quote to your needs. In the fee proposal, we will outline which drawings or plans we require from you before we commence the project.
Who should I use to carry out any necessary tree work such as felling?
We can provide a list of arboricultural contractors (tree surgeons) who we have found to display high levels of professionalism and technical competence and who should be able to provide competitive rates for arboricultural works.
What is the difference between an arboricultural surveyor and a tree surgeon?
An arboricultural surveyor conducts surveys, provides expert advice, produces relevant plans and reports for specific purposes such as submission with planning permission, or a risk assessment. Our consultants have the skills and expertise provide advice and support in a wide range of tree related situations, from planning a housing development or a small extension adjacent to trees, to reading the history of a tree using tree ring analysis.
A tree surgeon will carry out any physical tree work which may need to be carried out.
How much does a tree survey cost?
We are often asked ‘How much does it cost for a tree survey?’. Each project is quoted on a case by case basis and a fixed price is agreed upon before we start. (This excludes tree surveys for mortgage and insurance purposes, which have a fixed price of £420+ VAT subject to distance from our base and other terms).
This ensures we can fully gauge the scope of your project, the time it will take to complete and provide all the information you need. A one size fits all approach is rarely appropriate, as important considerations can be overlooked and prove more costly in the long run. We think you will find our prices fair, and reflective of the quality of our work.
How do I get a quote?
You can contact us by phone or email to discuss your request or fill out the form on our website. Once we receive all of the information we need in relation to your project, we email you a Fee Proposal which outlines the required work and all our terms and conditions. If you are satisfied, return the attached pro-forma by email and we will be in touch to arrange to carry out the agreed work.
Which areas do you cover?
Most of our work is conducted across the northwest of England including Cheshire, Merseyside, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and North Wales, however we have worked on many larger projects further afield and overseas, so contact us if you think there is something we can help you with. We have Associates across the UK and can usually provide a competitive quotation in most areas.
What kind of work do you take on?
See our Case studies for examples of our previous work. We can scale to meet the requirements of commercial projects for developers, local government, large landowners and estates as well the needs of homeowners and smaller scale projects.
When making an enquiry for a quote for a tree risk assessment, what information do you need me to provide?
We need a site location plan that identifies the boundaries. Google Maps® or Bing Maps® is good for this. We need to understand how the site is used, in broad terms initially, and what your objectives are for the management of your trees. Simply knowing whether you love or hate the tree, or that you are indifferent about it will help us when we are providing options for its management.
What is QTRA?
The Quantified Tree Risk Assessment (QTRA) method, developed by Mike Ellison at Cheshire Woodlands, applies established and accepted risk management principles to tree safety management. The method moves the management of tree safety away from labelling trees as either ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ and in most situations away from requiring definitive judgements from either tree assessors or tree managers. Instead, QTRA quantifies the risk from tree failure in a way that enables tree managers to balance safety with tree value.
By quantifying the risk from tree failure, QTRA enables a tree owner or manager to manage the risk in accordance with widely applied and internationally recognised levels of risk tolerance. QTRA also provides a decision-making framework which allows decision-makers to consider the balance between the benefits provided by trees, levels of risk they pose, and costs of risk management.
How often do I need a tree inspection and risk assessment?
That depends on the characteristics of your trees and their location. If you follow the National Tree Safety Group guidance for domestic tree owners, and you have a population of healthy trees, it might be sufficient that you keep an eye on your trees, check them after storms for obvious defects such as splits, partial uprooting and broken branches, and then engage an arboriculturist when you identify something of concern that you’re not sure about.
What level of risk do trees pose?
How long is a piece of string? For the average person in the UK, the annual risk of dying as a result of being struck by a tree is around 1 in 10 million. To put that into some sort of perspective, the risk of death on our roads is almost 600 times greater at around 1 in 17,000 per annum. Of course, in that huge mix there is a wide range of risk and some trees do present very high risks, particularly when they are large and unstable, and adjacent to busy areas. But, importantly, most trees present very low risks.
What does a Tree inspection and risk assessment report include?
It depends on the level of detail that you are looking for and the characteristics of your tree population and location. Big old trees adjacent to busy areas require more detailed assessment than younger trees in a low use location. Sometimes we will carry out a detailed inspection of each tree, but more commonly we carry out a Walkover Assessment, taking a general view of your trees at an appropriate level of detail, we then record individually only those trees that present significantly elevated risks, or where there is some other reason to.
Who is responsible for tree safety?
Property owners and managers have a duty (under English law) to ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, that people and property are not exposed to unreasonable levels of risk from the mechanical failure of their trees. In 2007, The National Tree Safety Group was formed, and in 2011 it published a suite of guidance on taking a reasonable and proportionate approach to tree safety, which has been endorsed by the UK Health & Safety Executive. Take a look ( https://ntsgroup.org.uk/guidance-publications/), there’s simple, clear guidance for the domestic tree owner, and more extensive guidance for large landowners, councils, and tree professionals.
When I make an enquiry for a quote, what information do you need me to provide?
We need to know the site boundaries and the general nature of the planning proposal. If you have a detailed design, we can advise you on the likely constraints imposed by trees. Previous planning history is also helpful.
Tree Inspections and Risk Assessment
My neighbour’s trees are close to the site boundary, do these need to be included in a survey?
This depends on the extent of the size of the trees and whether their roots are likely to be significantly impacted by the proposal. We consider the Root Protection Area (RPA) of the tree, which is the area of ground around the tree that needs to remain undisturbed during construction operations. The RPA is initially represented by a circle that is centred on the tree stem and has a radius equal to 12 times the stem diameter measured at a height of 1.5m.
What is a BS5837 Survey and why do I need one?
The importance of trees within the planning system has increased significantly in recent years, and the effects of development upon trees is a ‘material consideration’ in the planning process. This means that local planning authorities must consider the impacts on trees when determining planning applications.
In practical terms, this means detailed arboricultural information must be submitted where trees are present on or adjacent to a site beginning with a tree survey to the standards set out in BS5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations as a pre-requisite for the registration of planning applications.
When making an enquiry for a quote, what information do you need me to provide?
We need a site location plan that identifies the boundaries. Google Maps® or Bing Maps® is good for this. We need to understand your management objectives and priorities. Are there any statutory designation or requirements, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, conservation areas, existing obligations related to planning permissions, grant funding or felling licence restocking notices?
Can you advise on commercial woodland/forestry purchases and grants I may be eligible for?
We can, but because our main focus is on the management of amenity woodland, we may refer you to an associate for specialist advice.
When making an enquiry for a quote, what information do you need me to provide?
Provide us with a short description of the tree and the signs of damage or ill health along with some photographs. We will then usually ask a few questions before providing some initial suggestions. If we can’t provide an answer, we can arrange a site visit.
When do I need to intervene?
It might not be necessary to intervene. It could be a short-term problem, or perhaps no problem at all. Often it is sufficient to understand what you are observing, but you can be confident that if there is a problem to be diagnosed, we are the people to diagnose it.
What steps can I take to protect my trees, shrubs and hedges from pests and diseases?
Maintaining age and species diversity is important in reducing your exposure to specific diseases. Be sure that any planting material that you introduce has an EU Plant Passport. Regularly check the Forestry Commission website for information of plant health threats. But most of all, recognise that people are the biggest threat to trees. Each year we meet many clients who have inadvertently killed or damaged their trees by excavation and resurfacing, building, altering soil hydrology, lighting fires, tipping garden waste, inappropriate pruning, and so on.
What are the signs of pests and disease that I should look out for in my trees, shrubs and hedges?
The larger pests are horses, cattle and sheep trampling the ground in which trees are rooted, and often browsing on the bark of trees, which can lead to their rapid decline. Deer might de-bark trees whilst rubbing their antlers to remove felt. Next are grey squirrels, which browse on the shoots and bark of trees, followed by birds including pigeons and parakeets browsing on buds and young shoots. There are many insects, fungi, viruses and bacteria, most of which play beneficial roles in ecosystems, but when they are introduced from abroad and find new hosts, some of these caon have devastating consequences. Some of the most recently introduced are Asian Longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) and Ash dieback disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus)
My trees have been poorly managed/neglected in the past, can you help?
We can usually help. Let us take a look and give you some quick preliminary advice. You can then judge for yourself whether it’s worth taking it further.
What is the difference between an Ancient and Veteran tree?
An ancient tree is a very old tree for its species and location. A veteran tree has characteristics of an ancient tree, such as decay, hollows, dead branches, loose bark and so on, but might have arrived at that state by accident or through management but is not necessarily ancient.
What information does a mortgage report include?
If a tree is not protected by a TPO, can I remove it or prune it without constraints?
Trees in a conservation area that are not protected by an Order are protected by the provisions in section 211 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. These provisions require people to notify the local planning authority, using a ‘section 211 notice’, 6 weeks before carrying out certain work on such trees, unless an exception applies. The work may go ahead before the end of the 6 week period if the local planning authority gives consent. This notice period gives the authority an opportunity to consider whether to make an Order on the tree.
Subject to specified exemptions, a licence may be required for the felling of growing trees
Your nearest Forestry Commission or Natural Resources Wales office will advise whether you require a felling licence.
What constraints should I be aware of if I own trees with TPOs?
Subject to specified exceptions, an application must be made to the local planning authority [LPA] to carry out work on or remove trees that are protected by a tree preservation order [TPO]
Why and how can TPO status change?
Land use might have changed since an order was originally made; land might have been developed; trees might have been removed; trees still standing may no longer merit the protection of the TPO; new trees might merit protection; the TPO map might bear little comparison with a modern map. If you are a landowner, our expertise in the evaluation of the TPOs system can help you to oppose an inappropriate order or provide well-reasoned justifications to remove or prune protected trees
How do I find out whether my trees are protected by a TPO?
Most local planning authorities have an online interactive mapping system that you can integrate. Some are still in the dark-ages and you will need to telephone or email your enquiry. You can obtain copies of tree preservation orders from the local planning authority, but most charge for this service.
What professional background do you have as an Expert witness?
Our consultants hold a range of qualifications from certificates to professional diplomas and degrees. Mike Ellison and Glyn Thomas are experienced in providing a wide range of expert evidence in relation to neighbour disputes, subsidence damage, trees and the planning system, work related accidents, and tree safety management.
When making an enquiry for a quote, what information do you need me to provide?
If your property has already suffered suspected subsidence related damage, you should provide us with any existing structural reports and the results of any investigations or monitoring.
How close does a tree need to be to my home for tree roots to pose a risk?
The presence of a tree growing close to your home will not necessarily cause any serious issues. Factors including soil type, species and height of the tree are important to consider when assessing the influence of roots.
Fast and efficient with their work and provided an excellent service throughout the project.
Thanks to Cheshire Woodland’s QTRA method being applied, we are happy that we are now not only fulfilling our ‘duty of care’ but preserving the majority of our trees and their diverse landscape and conservation values.
Always satisfied with the service provided. In all cases work is carried out to a suitable timescale and to an excellent standard.
Cheshire Woodlands’ help and advice have been essential to ensure we preserve these trees for the future whilst maintaining a safe school environment.
More than happy with Cheshire Woodlands’ service. Rates are competitive, staff are friendly and accessible and work is professional and done to an excellent standard.