OBL – Countryside Management
Considerations with Tree Clearance and Tree Surgery
OBL’s dedicated Tree Works department provides complete clearance and tree surgery solutions. Whether you require site clearance on construction projects or domestic tree surgery, our professional tree surgeons and tree clearance plant operators are fully certified to carry out all tree-related requirements.
If your site requires tree removal or clearing, there are a number of things you should consider while taking the tree surgery route – tree surgeons are not just for your local park or those with a large estate, but are crucial if you need to save damaged trees, remove dangerous branches and even move trees where necessary.
When planning construction on a site around or on trees or woodland, it is important to know what types they are as some may be protected under a Tree Preservation Order. This is an order made by a local planning authority to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. This is crucial, as any work on it—even pruning—must be approved by your local authority. This often means applying up to eight weeks ahead of the work that needs doing, and you should remain in contact with the relevant authorities. In the majority of cases, pruning work or removal will only be approved if the tree is dead or dangerous. In this case, you may be required to replace it with a similar one, which could cause problems for your project. This is why it’s important to consider tree removal in plenty of time before beginning your project.
Above all, it’s important that you comply with TPOs, as you can be fined for any work on a protected tree that has not been approved. These fines can be anywhere from £2,500 or £20,000, depending on the type of tree. Our dedicated Tree Works department can provide the necessary advice here, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
While relocating trees should be a last resort as they will all sustain some damage when you move them, it can be a practical solution instead of complete removal. This is because tree roots can be helpful in preventing landslides on steep slopes, and also help in preventing stream bank erosion.
A tree surgeon will be able to arrange such a move, however, it depends on a number of factors. Given the timescale of your project, the time of year is as important – moving trees requires plenty of preparation work. This includes investigatory digging, which will be needed to examine the tree’s roots and its suitability for transfer to a new site. Because of the timescale required here, you should consider this in advance of major works on your site.
Moreover, they will likely suggest coming back for maintenance work, and you must look after the tree/s carefully for the first year after the move.
In many instances, you may require trees on your site, or would not wish for them to be removed – instead, they will just need to be cut back. Trees will sometimes need pruning, whether that’s due to proximity to important parts of your project, storm damage or simply to encourage growth. Pruning is best done from April through late summer for most trees, however, dead or damaged branches can be removed at any time. Tree surgeons will know the best time to prune trees, as pruning at the right time will avoid disease. In general, if it has grown too large then they’ll explore methods such as pollarding, lifting the crown or simply thinning out. Before arranging any consultations or carrying out any tree pruning or maintenance, you should check for the presence of active bird nests. It is an offence to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it’s being used or being built, so be careful when arranging works on your site.
OBL – Ecological Contractors
As one of the industry’s leading ecological contractors, Oliver Brown Ltd is committed to working with ecological consultants, developers and contractors in all sectors of construction. OBL has developed an experienced in-house solution to all ecological mitigation requirements and can facilitate all ecological schemes, from ecological fence installation, reptile fencing, badger exclusions, to habitat creation and manipulation. Ecological fencing can be a necessary requirement if your land supports specially protected species such as reptiles, great crested newts or water voles. These species must be removed from your site and moved into areas which have been specially enhanced or designed to support them.
During the early stage of planning on your site, it is recommended that reptile surveys are undertaken. A number of species of reptiles are recognised as priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and, often in order for planning permission to be granted, local authorities will want to see that steps have been taken to prevent loss of reptile populations and habitats. In the UK there are six native reptile species: four widespread – the grass snake, slow-worm, common lizard and adder, and two much rarer – smooth and sand lizard. While common reptiles are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the two rarer species receive full protection under the UK and European Law. It should be noted that, although not licensable, appropriate mitigation measures need to be taken to prevent the intentional killing or injury of these species. This might include the setting of a reptile exclusion fence in target areas, followed by trapping and translocation of caught animals to suitable sites. OBL can undertake all the above works.
When planning your project and making arrangements for a reptile survey, the time of year should be taken into account – reptile surveys can take place in spring, summer and autumn, and depend on weather conditions. These surveys are undertaken by experienced ecologists who use artificial refugia—for example, roofing felts and tin—when the chance of sightings are most likely. If your project is likely to affect the rarer reptile species, a European Protected Species (EPS) license, issued by Natural England, will be required.
Great Crested Newts
The Great Crested Newt is a relatively large species and is a European Protected Species. GCN surveys are critical in protecting the species and are undertaken during the breeding season to assess the presence or absence of great crested newts on or around the site. The presence of great crested newts on or within 500 metres of a site will slow down developments, so they should be considered in the planning process. A GCN survey requires four visits by surveyors, including a Natural England license holder. If great crested newts are confirmed to be within the surveyed area, two additional visits are needed to evaluate the population size.
Development of a site where great crested newts occur can be made legal by the granting of an appropriate Natural England license. Once approved by Natural England, GCN mitigation could include the setting of a newt fence or newt barrier around the site, where pit-fall trapping could be undertaken and newts relocated to a suitable area off-site. OBL can undertake the above works.
Water Vole Surveys
The water vole is the largest of Britain’s native vole and is protected under the UK law. It is an offence to damage water vole burrows or kill/injure individuals, and it is illegal to even handle voles is illegal without a license. Like great crested newts, water vole surveys are usually undertaken by an experienced ecologist during the breeding season. The water vole survey looks for signs such as droppings and latrines, burrows, grazed lawns around burrow entrances and feeding remains. Mitigation strategies must be designed prior to any major works on your site, and a license will be required whenever a disturbance to water voles or damage to their burrows is likely to occur. As one of the industry’s leading ecological contractors, we can offer solutions and recommend you contact us with any requirements.