Trees once covered much of the British Isles. Over the centuries we have removed most of this tree cover to create land for growing food and places to live but trees are still vital to the quality of our lives. Amongst other benefits they; help make St Edmundsbury a more pleasant and attractive place in which to live and work bringing colour, seasonal interest and nature into the built environment provide a valuable habitat for wildlife; improve the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide, producing oxygen, trapping dust in their leaves, absorbing storm water and recycling atmospheric moisture and enhance microclimate by providing shade, protection from UV light and shelter from wind. Some individual trees are important landmarks in their own right, or have special historical or local significance.
The role of St Edmundsbury Borough Council
The borough council owns and maintains many parks and open spaces. Tree management in these areas is the responsibility of the parks department. The Town and Country Planning Act gives local authorities powers to protect trees in conservation areas and by making tree preservation orders in the interests of public amenity. We also have a duty to consider the need for tree planting when new development is proposed.
Trees in conservation areas
Trees are often integral to the character of St Edmundsbury's conservation areas, especially those trees that are visible from public areas. The law requires that anyone planning to cut down or carry out work to a tree in a conservation area must give the council six weeks notice of his or her intention to do so. To find out if you live within conservation area visit our conservation area maps page. Notification must be made in writing giving details of tree species, location and nature of the work to be carried out. There is no charge for this process. Alternatively, download a Tree Work Application/Notification form (PDF 805Kb) and Tree work guidance notes (PDF 135Kb).
Tree Preservation Orders
A tree preservation order (TPO) protects individual trees or groups of trees that make a particularly important contribution to the public amenity of an area. This may be because of their contribution to the landscape, their intrinsic beauty, their scarcity, or simply because they screen an eyesore. Approval from the local planning authority is required for felling or pruning a tree subject to a tree preservation order. There is no charge and applications are considered bearing in mind the amenity value of the trees balanced against the reasons put forward in the application for the works. When approval is given for surgery then it is usually subject to a condition that works be undertaken to the latest arboricultural standards, including in particular BS 3998:1989 'Recommendations for Tree Work'.
If an application is refused or subject to conditions the applicant has the right of appeal to the Secretary of State.
Unauthorised works to trees
Carrying out work to trees protected by a TPO, or in a conservation area, without the necessary approval or notification, can be a criminal offence and could lead to prosecution. There are some exceptions to the need for consent such as when a tree is dead, dying or dangerous and action needs to be taken quickly for safety reasons. Before undertaking any works advice should be sought from the Tree and Landscape Officer, Jaki Fisher phone: 01284 757336 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Protected trees: a guide to tree preservation procedures leaflet has further information about tree preservation orders and trees in conservation areas.
In the countryside control over felling trees rests principally with the Forestry Commission and a felling licence may be required when trees are being removed.
Trees on development sites
Trees can bring significant benefits when incorporated into new development but care is needed to ensure that existing mature trees are protected, especially during the construction phase. Existing trees and the potential impact of development must be assessed at an early stage in the formulation of proposals.
British Standard 5837:2005 "Trees in Relation to Construction" is an essential reference for all those concerned with the development of sites containing established trees.
NJUG10 (National joint Utilities Group) Publication 10 (PDF 63Kb) - provides guidance on the installation of underground services.
APN1 (Arboriculture Practice Note 12/2009) provides information on the construction of driveways close to trees.
It is equally important to ensure that existing trees or new planting will not adversely affect new development. There are many parts of the borough where the subsoil includes an element of shrinkable clay and the presence of trees can add to soil shrinkage and this may affect foundation design. Further advice is available from the Council's Building Control officers.
Further advice and information: