When dealing with ash dieback issues on your land, you may wish to engage a specialist contractor to provide support for:
- Tree inspections and surveys
- Tree works and felling
- Planting of replacement trees
These pages highlight how you can ensure you obtain value for money, achieve the intended outcome, and deal adequately with any potential risks.
It is good practice to use different contractors to carry out the separate processes of tree survey and tree works. This reduces the risk that the inspector might identify work that isn’t strictly necessary in order to profit from the subsequent surgery. This clear separation of interest is particularly important if you are using the surveyor’s recommendations to justify an application to undertaking work on trees with Tree Preservation Orders or within conservation areas.
- Obtain at least three quotes from suitably qualified contractors (taking into account the complexity and risk of the operation). Contractors will normally make prospective visits free of charge. Be sure to check first though.
- Ensure all parties exchange full respective details (including the on-site contractor, site worker or contact person)
- Provide a map so all parties are clear what is to be done where.
- Confirm specific dates for when the works will be started and completed
- Ensure that the contractor has appropriate valid insurance (see below)
- Ensure there is a written contract (offer and acceptance) between you and the contractor. The contractor may supply a contract but usually an exchange of emails will suffice.
- Ensure that the contractor agrees in writing to any specifications before you confirm in writing that the contractor may go ahead.
Health and Safety information
Provide your contractor with any relevant emergency details, including:
Provide your contractor with any relevant emergency details, including:
- Whether the mobile signal is good on site,
- Location of nearest A&E department,
- Access for any emergency services – is a road nearby or would a four-wheel drive vehicle or air ambulance access be necessary.
- Location of emergency stopcocks (gas, water, electrical isolation equipment)
Provide your contractors with any site hazard information, including:
- Access route and working area (e.g., any access width/weight/height restrictions, any unstable ground, or hidden hazards.
- Whether certain weather conditions will make access or site unsafe.
- The location of any overhead and underground hazards such as cabling or pipes or services if these are a potentially hazard to contractors’ vehicles or operations.
- Provide map of any hazards.
Environmental sensitivities within and adjacent to site
Provide your contractor with information about any known features on site that should be avoided or that would be sensitive to disturbance and should be protected during proposed work, or subject to specific procedures under law. Ensure that your contractor is fully aware of such protection and takes the required action. Failure to do so could result in an offence being committed. It is the landowner’s responsibility to ensure contractors appointed by them do this.
Check that the contractor is adequately insured for any tasks that they are engaged to undertake. As a guide, many organisations now require the following levels of insurance cover for tree inspections or works:
- Public Liability Insurance of £5 million or more
- Professional Indemnity Insurance of £1m or more
- Employers Liability Insurance which meets mandatory requirements
Tree Inspections and Surveys
The Inspector should be suitably qualified to carry out tree inspection. As a guide many organisations now require that their own inspectors are qualified to QCF level 5 (or its equivalent), although they will also accept inspections carried out by inspectors qualified down to QCF level three (or its equivalent) as long as those inspectors are themselves supervised by a level 5 inspector.
The Arboricultural Association, is a professional organisation that maintains an online directory of qualified and vetted consultants and contractors. Not all consultants and contractors are Arboricultural Association members. Some are members of other organisations such as the Institute of Chartered Foresters, or International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). An online search will uncover inspectors / consultants / contractors working in your area.
The Inspector should be able to demonstrate relevant experience of tree inspection. If in doubt seek references from clients for whom they have recently carried out work
Tree Inspections close to Highways
Where an inspector is required to work on or around the highway (especially on well used roads it would be wise to engage a contractor who is qualified to work on or around highways. As a guide many organisations now require that at least one individual on site be qualified to operative level for signing guarding and lighting within the highway (Unit 2 within the New Road and Street Works Act). And that a supervisor competent in signing, guarding and lighting (Unit 10 within the New Roads and Streetworks Act) shall be tangibly responsible for site supervision.
In some situations the inspector may need to carry out detailed tree investigations, for example:
- There may be a requirement for an inspector to climb a tree using ropes. If so, the inspector will need to be appropriately qualified and be accompanied by a colleague qualified in aerial rescue.
- Some trees of significant importance may need to be assessed using specialist tree survey equipment like resistograph drilling or sonic tomography (which can be costly) – it is wise to ensure that the costs and justification for this are clearly identified in advance of work being carried out.
Tree Works and Felling
If you have already commissioned a separate tree inspection, pass the report to your tree surgeon contractor.
The tree surgery team should be suitably qualified. For any off ground work a team of not less than three should attend, of which:
- One should hold Lantra approved certificates in both chainsaw use and in aerial climbing
- Another should hold a Lantra approved certificate in aerial rescue
- The third should have and be capable of operating a mobile phone.
The rationale is – one up the tree carrying out the work, one available to go and rescue, and one capable of calling for help.
The Arboricultural Association is a professional organisation that maintains an online directory of qualified and vetted tree surgeons. Not all contractors are Arboricultural Association members. Some are members of other organisations such as the Institute of Chartered Foresters or International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). An online search will uncover inspectors / consultants / contractors working in your area.
The tree surgeon should be able to demonstrate relevant experience of tree surgery. If in doubt seek references from clients for whom they have recently carried out work.
If your trees are growing in close proximity to utilities such as electricity wires or gas pipelines ensure that your contractor has experience of, and is comfortable with, handling such situations
Responsible contractors will be able to deploy a mobile elevated working platform where appropriate to minimise risk to their workforce
Do you need a felling licence?
A felling licence is required by law if you fell more than 5m³ of timber in one calendar quarter.
Wildlife Protection & Tree Preservation Orders
Where the presence of protected wildlife species has been identified or is suspected or where working within a designated wildlife site you should ensure that the inspector has appropriate knowledge to identify species and deploy precautionary measures to avoid harm to wildlife.
Trees may be the subject of Tree Preservation Orders or grow in Conservation Areas– both administered by your local Council. It is your responsibility to check and inform your tree contractor prior to undertaking any works.
Tree Surgery close to Highways
Where a tree surgeon is required to work on trees that may affect the highway, Devon County Council requires that at least one individual on site be qualified to operative level for signing guarding and lighting within the highway (Unit 2 within the New Road and Street Works Act). And that a supervisor competent in signing, guarding and lighting (Unit 10 within the New Roads and Streetworks Act) shall be tangibly responsible for site supervision.
If the tree surgeon will be required to take material away for disposal they must hold a valid waste carriers license.
Planting of replacement trees
Finding a contractor
Where replanting is required there are a wide range of contractors that can carry out the works. Many are members of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), but an online search will uncover landscaping and forestry contractors working in your area
The South West Woodland Directory lists a number of planting contractors in the region.
Competition – Planting contractors can be sought through the SW Woodland Directory (currently being updated and renewed). Contractors will normally make prospective visits free of charge. Be sure to ask.
Legal/Statutory designations – Before contracting planting, ensure that there is no conflict with any existing statutory site protection or legal agreement. See advice here.
It is important that you give the planting contractor a clear plan and written specification upon which their quotation should be based. This should include:
- Plan showing planting locations, sensitive environmental areas to avoid, site access, and any hazards such as underground and overhead services
- Planting schedule listing species name (latin name as well as common name), number required, stock size, root condition (e.g. bare root , container grown, cell grown etc)
- Where the plants must have been sourced and grown (‘provenance’) to ensure biosecurity and support native wildlife (UK grown and sourced planting stock is recommended)
- For mass planting, species mix identifying % proportion of each species and guidance on location, grouping and spacing of species
- Requirements for handling and transporting plants to site, and storing them temporarily prior to planting (usually by ‘heeling in’ a designated trench). This will help ensure plants are in good condition with less risk of failure.
- Planting method, including whether pit-planted or notch planted, and requirements for clearing areas of weeds prior to planting and incorporating soil improvers, mulches etc.
- Protection of plants from grazing animals, such as deer, stock, rabbits and voles. This is likely to include need for tree shelters/guards and may include fencing.
- The right timing and prevailing conditions for planting
It is highly recommended to get the planting contractor to also carry out maintenance of new planting for a minimum of three years, ideally 5 (as recommended in BS. This will ensure planted trees are well established and growing vigorously at the end of this period. Maintenance requirements should include replacement of any failed plants (‘beating up’), checking and maintaining tree stakes, ties and tubes, and carrying out essential weed control around each plant.
For smaller planting schemes, the plant supplier (nursery or garden centre) may have technical staff who can help with specifications. Alternatively, particularly for larger replanting schemes, consider engaging a qualified landscape architect or chartered forester trained to design and specify planting and administer contracts as your agent, including checking/certifying work against the specification prior to payment. To find a landscape architect in your area visit https://my.landscapeinstitute.org/directory. To find a chartered forester visit [insert link]