If you own or are responsible for trees, do you know what your legal obligations are, and are you meeting them? agb Environmental has some advice for those tree owners among you.
Trees are an important asset to any property; by providing attractive surroundings they can also add value to your home. But looking after them can be a real worry, particularly when tree failure makes headline news. No-one wants to be held responsible for the resulting damage, injury, or worse.
We routinely consider safety in many areas of our property. We often check over our houses or look at our cars in search of any potential problems that require attention, and this should be the same for our trees. For larger properties, which may have large numbers of staff, residents or visitors, regular electrical appliance testing and fire safety inspections are often a legal requirement, and this safety conscious effort should continue into the garden or grounds.
If you own or are responsible for property, you have a legal duty of care to people that can be expected to be on or next to it. You are responsible for the consequences of what you do, or fail to do, if it affects people or property. Thus, if you own trees, you are responsible for taking reasonable action to prevent them causing foreseeable damage or injury.
But what are the signs to look for? We understand that you may not be an expert on arboriculture matters, so here at agb Environmental, we have collated some easy tips for you to follow when looking after your trees.
Dead branches, splits, large cavities and fungi are obvious signs that something may be wrong with your tree. Leaves that fall early, are misshapen or discoloured may also indicate a problem. If you spot such signs, or they are pointed out to you by a neighbour, staff member, resident or visitor, you must not ignore them as it could lead to a disease potentially killing the branch or entire tree, and it collapsing.
At this point it may be worth getting in an arboriculturist to advise you on what to do. In some cases the problem may be minor and perhaps little or no work is needed, but you will have saved yourself the considerable expense of having a tree removed unnecessarily. If it is serious, they can advise you on what needs to be done to make sure you make your tree safe. Sometimes other people, such as concerned neighbours or buyers, may demand you take action over concerns that may be unfounded, and here an arboriculturist can help defend you, and your trees, from such threats.
For larger properties, whilst periodic inspection by you or your staff may be sufficient, for greater confidence you should consider having a professional inspection by an arboriculturist on a regular basis. The frequency of inspection need not be annual, often only repeated every three to five years, depending on the site circumstances.
Periodic professional inspection offers a number of benefits. It provides evidence you have met your legal duty of care, which may be a requirement of your insurance company to help limit liability. It identifies both what work is required and its urgency, helping you to budget more effectively – planned work is generally much less expensive than the cost of clearing up after a failure. It also helps identify problems that you may otherwise have missed, keeping people and property safer.
Having your trees regularly inspected by a professional arboriculturist can help save money, worry and most importantly, lives.
If you have concerns about individual or all trees on your property, agb Environmental has an experienced and qualified arboricultural department, able to carry out surveys, provide advice on their management and detailed reports covering all work requirements. In addition, we can also manage contractors and obtain all permissions for work where trees are subject to legal protection.
For more information speak to managing director, Alex Brearley, on 01638 663226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.