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27 May

When is a tree unsafe?

When is a tree unsafe?  Tree safety is important.  If a tree subject to a Tree Preservation Order, or part of it, is unsafe, works to make it safe can proceed.  They are exempt from the need for consent.  However, the burden of proof is on the tree owner to demonstrate that the tree is unsafe.  I appreciated this when guiding a client through the maze.  A planning officer had agreed with them that the tree was unsafe, and that all they needed to do was to give the notice.  I suggested caution.  Inspecting the tree, I recognised that some pruning was needed, but the tree itself, in decline, was not imminently unsafe.  An application to fell would be needed.  The consequences of giving notice and then felling without evidence?  Potential enforcement action.

I was reflecting on this with a different case where the tree owner gave notice but then delayed works until they had been on holiday.  The officer declined to approve the felling, explaining to me that if the owner had time to take a holiday, the tree couldn’t be that dangerous.  I had to agree!

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