Development works near protected trees

The tools below are useful for those people wishing to carry out works near to protected trees.

Trees and development flow chart

The flow chart shows the key development steps to take when designing and constructing buildings that are in the vicinity of trees.

Example tree survey

A tree survey should be undertaken by an arboriculturalist and record the trees' specification and information independently of any specific design. The survey should then categorise the trees for quality in line with British Standards 5837 Trees in Relation to Construction 2005, Table 1 Cascade Chart for Tree Quality Assessment.

The tree survey should also include a scaled tree constraints plan showing the root protection area and the current crown protection area of the trees.

The constraints plan should also show the shading parameters of the current and ultimate height and the current and ultimate branch spread of the trees. For 'normal' ultimate height and branch spread of trees in an urban situation see Arboricultural Research Note 84-90 issued by the Department of the Environment Arboricultural Advisory & Information Services.

Below is an example of the data and the format that should be included within a tree survey. This shows what tree details need to be recorded and submitted with a planning application.

Tree survey

Minimum area needed for trees

This is brief guidance on how to calculate how much of a tree's crown and rootzone needs to be protected to ensure survival. This also highlights issues of shading and construction that the Council will consider when determining the application.

Protective fencing

The document provides the specification details of what makes a protective fence that conforms to British Standards.

Trees signs

Below are the signs for protective fencing and work areas on construction and development sites. Courtesy of the Arboricultural Information Exchange.

Arboricultural method statement for construction works close to trees

A Method Statement is a document detailing how a particular process will be carried out. In the arboricultural industry, such a statement is commonly used to describe how construction works can be carried out close to trees. It should include details on how the works will be managed and how the trees will be adequately protected during such a process. It is a document that many Local Planning Authorities (LPA) are now requesting as a condition of planning consent.

The method statement contains a timetable indicating when and how specific works adjacent to trees should be carried out. This will cover items such as the installation of protective fencing, hand excavation within tree protection zones, surface changes etc.

Engineering specification sheets should be included for items such as the design of protective fencing, special surfaces, methods of trenching etc. Bill of quantities for materials are also included where necessary. Site supervision by an arboriculturist may be stipulated for some or all of the operations associated with trees.

Items to include within a method statement:

  • Schedule of Tree surgery works (prior to and upon completion of construction works).
  • Tree protection Zone (TPZ) (distances, type of fencing etc)
  • Specification for surface changes
  • Specification for level changes
  • Trenching (methods)
  • Location of bonfires, chemicals etc
  • Contingency Plans (chemical spillage, collision, emergency access to the TPZ)
  • Post construction landscaping near trees.
  • Tree planting (storage of trees, site preparation)
  • Contact listing (council, arboriculturist, architect etc)

Additionally a method statement may need to include items such as copies of site plans and a tree survey schedule.

Courtesy of the Arboricultural Information Exchange.

Arboricultural implication study

An arboricultural implication study is also known as:  Arboricultural Impact Assessment, Arboricultural Implication Assessment, Arboricultural Impact Appraisal, Pre-Development Assessment.

An Arboricultural Implication Study (AIS)  is a type of tree survey that considers how a proposed development and its associated trees will co-exist and interact in the present and future. An AIS is a document that many Local Planning Authorities (LPA) are now requesting as part of a planning application; they need to satisfy themselves that factors such as root protection, changes in levels, installation of services, material storage, etc have been considered during the development layout and that these items will not prove detrimental to important trees.  They also need to ensure that future issues, such as the long term effects of changing a surface level or the future need to prune or remove trees because they cast excessive shade or encroach upon property, are addressed and avoided.

The carrying out of an AIS is recommended at an early stage within the planning process as it can identify and remove potential conflicts between the trees and the requirements of the development. This in turn can save the planners much time and money since major site layout modifications are kept to a minimum. Additionally, other important features such as ancient hedgerows and special habitats can be identified at an early stage.

Items to consider during an AIS.

  • Tree root protection (distances, engineering specifications)
  • Changes in levels
  • Changes in surfaces
  • Installation and layout of services
  • Demolition of existing buildings, surfaces
  • Exposure due to tree removal
  • Sunlight and shading
  • Construction site access
  • Construction site layout (offices, parking)
  • Construction site materials storage
  • Fruit production (fouling footpaths)
  • Planting (species selection e.g  thorns near footpaths)
  • Insects (honeydew), birds, bats

When trees and development are forced together, conflicts can arise. Once these conflicts have been addressed, ways to minimise the problems need to be discussed. 

An AIS may also need to contain copies (or extracts) of site plans, tree survey schedules, diagrams, photographs, draft copy of a method statement.

Courtesy of the Arboricultural Information Exchange

British standards relating to trees

A list of British Standards documents, that relate to trees.

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