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When is a Tree Survey Required?


If you have made your way here via a Google search that matches the title of this article, the answer is ‘now’.



If years of working as a Tree Surveyor in Northern Ireland has taught me one thing, it is that we don’t notice trees until it’s too late. We are more than happy to live in a house for a decade with a tree growing in our back garden without giving it a moment’s notice.


It is only when the tree starts to creak menacingly in the wind or when it doesn’t come into leaf for a couple of years that we start to worry about things like Tree Surveys. As the old adage goes, ‘Prevention is better than the cure’, something which holds true for trees.


If then, you are a tree owner, it’s better to get your tree inspected by a qualified Tree Surveyor before you start to spot any symptoms.


Whereas with humans, the symptoms of illness are quick to show up, that’s not the case for trees. Decay, fungi and other defects can go undetected by the untrained eye in trees for years.


That’s where a Tree Surveyor comes in, someone who can spot the early signs of ill-health and make recommendations to extend the lifespan of the tree.


There are of course, other specific scenarios in which you need a Tree Survey to achieve a desired outcome or fulfil your legal responsibilities. Below are three scenarios in which you absolutely need a Tree Survey:


Submitting Planning Applications


When submitting Planning Applications in Northern Ireland that may impact upon trees, the Council will ask you for an accompanying Tree Survey. Sometimes this is referred to as a ‘BS 5837 Report’ and other times it is known as an ‘Arboricultural Impact Assessment’.


It is known by these two names as it is a Tree Survey that must be carried out in accordance with British Standard 5837: 2012 ‘Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction – Recommendations’ to show the potential impact that development plans may have on trees.


Without one of these reports, all efforts to achieve Planning Permission will ultimately fail. If you’re considering a development, you need a Tree Surveyor.


(Max from Arbtech discusses what is involved in a BS 5837 Tree Survey.)


Risk Assessment


Tree owners and those responsible for trees (schools, churches etc) have a Duty of Care to ensure that the trees on their property do not cause damage or injury property and/or people. The most common way to achieve this Duty of Care is to commission a Risk Assessment Tree Survey.


Failure to do so can be seen as negligence in the eyes of the law, so if you’re a tree owner or the person responsible for trees, it would be wise to start thinking about annual Risk Assessment Tree Surveys.


(Tree Owners responsibility is based on the legal concept of Duty of Care.)


Mortgage Reports

As covered in our previous blog post, the majority of major lenders in the UK will require a Tree Survey before granted a mortgage to a property with trees growing nearby.


This is to cover the lender and ensure that there is no Arboricultural reason why a tree or trees may damage the property.


To find out more about Mortgage Reports, read our previous blog post by clicking HERE.


In Summary


Unlike you and me, trees can’t just go to the doctor when they’re feeling under the weather. That’s why we have to be proactive in our management of trees and call out the experts to carry out health and condition checks.


Take this proactive approach to tree management and you won’t just prolong the lives of your trees, you’ll also save money by avoiding unnecessary tree surgery works later down the line.

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