Trees can be both beautiful and dangerous and therefore many regulations apply to them.
PCCS must act responsibly in maintaining their trees, and be able to demonstrate this through retention of appropriate records. They should inspect their trees before and after instances of severe weather, particularly in areas of high public footfall such as adjacent to roads or paths. A professional inspection is required every 5 years and should be included as an annex to the quinquennial inspection report on the church building.
If a PCC is contemplating any work to a significant tree they should:
- establish whether the tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (the local planning authority will be able to advise)
- take appropriate expert advice - for example, from a contractor registered with the Arboricultural Association, Listing within the Directory is an assurance that the consultant or contractor has been examined and found to have satisfied a number of standards such as technical knowledge and provision of insurance cover.
Due care should also be taken if work to a range of minor trees may have a significant effect on teh appearance of the churchyard. If in doubt, conult your Archdeacon or the DAC Office.
Before planting any trees the parochial church council should consult an expert identified in paragraph 2 above as to the suitability of any proposed species for the churchyard in question and as to the appropriate location in the churchyard. The parochial church council must also obtain the consent of the Archdeacon. In any case where a major scheme of planting is proposed, the parochial church council must seek the advice of the Diocesan Advisory Committee and a Faculty from the Chancellor.
Where the parochial church council is advised by an expert, as identified in paragraph 2 above, that a tree or trees should be felled because of disease or for safety reasons, relating to either buildings or people, a copy of the written report of such expert must be supplied to the Archdeacon for the archdeaconry in question, who may authorise the felling. A photograph of the churchyard with the tree or trees concerned should be taken and retained, together with the expert's advice, with the parish records.
If the parochial church council wishes to fell a tree which is sound but is occupying a space in the churchyard required for some other use, then the parochial church council must seek the advice of the Diocesan Advisory Committee and a Faculty from the Chancellor.
Lopping and topping
All trees are ding deadwood and can consequently be hazardous to persons using the churchyard. Beech, ash and sycamore are especially prone to this. Standard remedial work such as the removal of split and hanging limbs and major deadwood (more than 50mm in diameter) may be carried out as advised by an arboricultural contractor (tree surgeon) in the Directory of the Arboricultural Association or approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee.
Other works of tree surgery, for example cable bracing, crown reduction and removal of major limbs, must be recommended in a written report by an expert as identified in paragraph 2 above. The report must be submitted to the Archdeacon in the archdeaconry in question, who may authorise the work or part of it, but in any case of doubt or difficulty the Archdeacon should refer the matter to the Diocesan Advisory Committee and the Chancellor.
Many old yews are subject to special recording and protection. Details at http://www.ancient-yew.org.
National advice from Churchcare:
- Wirral Borough Council - Trees in conservation areas
- Warrington Borough Council plus specific advice about trees in conservation areas
Guidance from the Health & Safety Executive:
- Common Sense Risk Management of Trees - detailed advice from the National Tree Safety Group
- Accredited contractors can be identified via www.trees.org.uk/
- If you need emergency work, see this link: emergency tree work