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Tree surveys in Bristol

Trees feature in urban and rural locations and can pose problems for development projects if they occupy a key area of the proposed scheme, or are protected, preventing them from being removed or felled.

A tree survey is usually needed whenever trees are present on a development site to satisfy the local planning authority that they won’t come to unnecessary harm. Tree surveys must be carried out by a licensed arboriculturist.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge.

Bristol and its trees

Bristol lies next to a 70-acre floating harbour and has a rich maritime history. It’s a vibrant, expanding city with the eleventh-highest UK urban population.

The city straddles the River Avon, and the Avon Gorge is an important botanical site and home to several rare tree species. There are over 400 parks and gardens in Bristol, and an estimated 600,000 trees located across the city, many of which have been integrated into the urban space as part of new developments.

According to a 2010 recording, Bristol had 989 hectares of tree cover, which exceeded the land area by around 8.7%. Seven years later Bristol had lost 242 milli hectares of tree canopy cover. Today, the city’s trees are protected by the local council: old or valuable trees are covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), while groups of trees are afforded protection if they are sited in a Conservation Area.

A tree consultant checks trees on a map.

Bristol City Council

Policies relating to tree works and preservation in relation to planning are detailed on the Bristol City Council website. The two main protections for trees are Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) for single trees and Conservation Area status for groups of trees. There are 33 conservation areas in the city currently. The local planning authority also stipulates that it must be informed of dead or dangerous trees and applications must be made to carry out works on trees.

The BS5837 tree assessment

This British Standard survey is the basis of most arboriculture assessments. An arboriculturist will visit the site to inspect all trees present, cross-referring them with the site’s proposed development plans to work out if trees would be harmed. The tree consultant will grade all the trees based on quality and value to establish the best way forward which could mean relocating, retaining, or destroying the tree or trees. Disease identification is part of this process.

While retention is always the best option, if trees look likely to interfere with the development plans, if they present a danger to people nearby, or if they are in poor condition, the most suitable outcome could well be relocation or destruction. After carrying out a tree survey, the consultant will complete a tree survey report giving details of the recommended next steps. These could include mitigation measures that would help the project progress and enable the applicant to submit a planning application to the local planning authority.

A tree survey in progress.

Arboricultural consultants in Bristol

If you need a tree survey carried out, make sure to identify an arboricultural consultancy that has a strong track record, good reviews, and experience in writing tree reports to help with planning applications. Consultants should hold the appropriate qualifications, licences and accreditations to enable them to carry out their role expertly.

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