While trees can pose problems on a proposed development site, issues can often be overcome if the correct procedures are followed. Local planning authorities are likely to require a tree survey as part of any planning application involving trees, and it must provide details about how trees on the site will be managed.
Lincolnshire in the east midlands
Famed for its castle and medieval cathedral, the county town of Lincoln dates from the 1st century BC and originated as an Iron Age settlement. Lincoln is surrounded by arable land and is home to several nature reserves, including Swanholme Lakes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), formed following quarrying in the 1960s and now home to woodland, heathland, and a variety of habitats. There are numerous tree species here including oak trees, pine trees, willow, and birch trees. Other important natural areas include Greetwell Hollow SSSI, Whisby Nature Park, and Hartsholme Country Park.
Benefitting future generations
Trees are recognised for playing a vital role in the county’s biodiversity by Lincolnshire County Council and the district authorities including East Lindsey, West Lindsey and North Kesteven, which all aim to maintain and improve the area’s varied environments to benefit future generations. For example, North Lincolnshire Council is aiming to plant 172,000 trees as part of the Northern Forest scheme.
While prioritising the protection of its environmentally important areas, the county council is keen to boost growth by overseeing more housing, businesses, jobs and infrastructure. The Greater Lincolnshire LEP Strategic Economic Plan 2014-2030 aims to drive development in Lincolnshire’s defining sectors: agri-food, advanced manufacturing and engineering, the low carbon economy and the visitor economy.
Tree surveys and the planning system
Proposals that will impact trees on a development site or in the surrounding area are likely to need tree reports as part of any application to the local planning authority for planning permission. If you submit a planning application without the correct tree reports, you risk a refusal. Any breach of the rules surrounding trees and development sites can result in substantial fines. A tree survey will provide details of all relevant trees and the tree consultant will be able to advise on the best mitigation measures for trees that would be affected by your plans.
Protection for trees
Trees are given two main protections: Tree Preservation Orders which can be placed on individual trees, while several trees can be protected in designated conservation areas. The local planning authority controls these measures and permission is needed before trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order or standing in conservation areas may be disturbed. It’s the responsibility of developers to find out whether there are protected trees on their proposed site: the local council’s tree officer will be able to advise. Breaching the rules could mean the risk of a significant fine.
Even if trees are not subject to a Tree Preservation Order or stand in a conservation area, you might still need to apply for a felling licence from the Forestry Commission: it is an offence not to obtain a licence if one is needed.
The BS5837 tree survey
This British Standard assessment involves a visual tree assessment taking in all trees on or adjacent to the proposed development site. Arboricultural consultants will identify all tree species and following a detailed inspection, give each tree a condition score, grading them from Category A to Category U according to health, size, quality and expected lifespan. The most valuable trees with high amenity value will be rated Category A, while poor-quality trees will be rated Category U.
Recommended tree work
The tree report will indicate the high-quality trees that should be retained and advise on the best approach for compensating for the loss of poor-quality trees. As well as indicating retained trees, the report will recommend outstanding tree works and clearance work. Tree removal may be recommended for trees that present an insurmountable barrier to development, with more trees being planted by way of compensation.
The completed BS5837 tree survey report will include details about how tree owners should meet obligations surrounding trees. If further surveys are required before planning permission can be granted, the tree report will also provide the relevant information.
Further tree surveys
The specialist tree surveys that may be required include tree constraints plans, tree condition surveys, details of root protection areas, a quantified tree risk assessment, arboricultural impact assessment and site monitoring. A tree protection plan, arboricultural method statement and arborical supervision may also be requested by a planning authority. Pre-purchase tree reports, or mortgage tree reports, may be required by a lender to assess trees for risk.
Do you need to arrange a tree survey in Lincolnshire?
The first step is to identify an arboricultural consultancy that’s experienced in providing tree reports for the local planning authority you are dealing with. A firm should employ fully qualified arboricultural consultants who hold the relevant licences allowing them to carry out a range of tree services. Using a reputable firm will ensure that you get expert arboricultural advice with planning applications and protect trees as you go through the development process.