The most vulnerable part of a tree is its root system. A tree depends on its root system for anchorage, water and nutrient uptake and storage of energy.

Generally a tree’s roots will develop in the top 600-900mm of soil and can extend out significantly further than the canopy spread.

Roots are easily damaged by trenching and excavation works for utilities and services or as a result of level changes.

Roots can also be damaged and often killed by compaction and damage to the soils in which they grow. The movement of vehicles and machinery, the storage of building materials and general building activity will cause compaction and damage to the soil structure.

Trees and their root systems can also be damaged or killed as a result of spillage of substances used on building sites which are toxic to trees such as petrol, diesel, oil, cement and sand with a high salt content. Care should be taken when storing or disposing of these substances.

Fires should not be lit beneath or close to trees because the heat can kill parts of the tree including the trunk and branches without any obvious sign of scorching.

We would encourage anyone that is thinking about making changes to their land or is interested in developing a site to consider the impact on trees at an early stage and suggest that developers utilise the Council’s Pre-application Advice service. By using this service, your proposals will be reviewed in terms of their impact on trees alongside other planning considerations and potential site constraints. In this way you will get a good understanding of all the requirements for a subsequent full application and any potential conflicts between trees and other site constraints can be highlighted at an early stage.

Engagement at an early stage is also encouraged to discuss whether or how Planning Obligations in the form of tree replacement requirements impact on the proposals. The following is a link to the Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document.

The British Standard 5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – recommendations is the primary reference document for trees within development sites. More information relating to planning applications and trees can be found by following this link.

Last updated: 6 February 2018

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