NWS Aborist Jim Allitt recently advised on the management of a substantial oak tree subject to a Tree Preservation Order and within the Broads National Park.
Our client, Mr Coleman, had concerns over the extent of deadwood in the canopy, especially where it was close to his and a neighbouring property, but as also keen to retain it as a beautiful feature of his home.
Mr Coleman asked NWS to determine the condition of the tree and make future management recommendations. The tree was surveyed to look at issues such as weak unions or forks, cavities, and especially any defects hidden higher in the canopy.
Sometimes hazards are obvious but subtler hazards may go unnoticed and mechanical failure may occur without specialist management.
Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act (1957 and 1984) the ‘occupier of the land’ where the tree is rooted has a duty of care to ‘take reasonable steps to prevent or minimise the risk of personal injury or damage to property’, both for visitors to the occupiers land (1057) and other persons (1984). The law is quite complicated.
To avoid or deal with risks while retaining the tree, a reasonable and balanced approach to future management requirements is needed, with a full understanding of calculated risk involved. In this case, NWS suggested a 2m, crown reduction and to clear larger deadwood from the canopy so that ‘sailing’ from the wind stressed the branch unions less.
Since the tree was protected, the works had to be agreed with the local planning authority, the Broads Authority. NWS’s successful application demonstrated that the works retained the screening the tree provided but were also necessary to reduce the risk the tree posed to the adjacent house and property.