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 trees 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.
- contact the DAC office, providing a report from an aboriculturalist stating the problems and proposed solution, photos of the trees and general area of concern, and a plan showing the location of work. The DAC office will advise what level of permission is required
- consider the timing of the work to avoid nesting season
Due care should be taken even if work is proposed to a range of minor trees, as this may have a significant effect on the appearance of the churchyard. If in doubt, consult your 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 PCC must obtain the consent of the Archdeacon via the online faculty system under List B. In any case where a major scheme of planting is proposed, the PCC 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 it is dead, dying or dangerous, a List B application should be made via the online faculty system. This must include a copy of the written report of such expert. 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
Deadwood can be hazardous to persons using the churchyard. Beech, ash and sycamore are especially prone to this. Limited remedial work such as removal of dead branches from a living tree, the lopping of topping of a tree that is dead, dying or dangerous, or felling, lopping or topping of a tree the diameter of any stem of which does not exceed 75 mm (measured over the bark at a height of 1.5m above ground level) may be carried out as advised by an arboricultural contractor (tree surgeon) in the Directory of the Arboricultural Association under List A, without further permission from the Diocesan Advisory Committee. However, it is advisable to notify the DAC office of the works and check that the work does fall within the conditions of List A.
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. A List B application, including the report, must be submitted to the Archdeacon in the archdeaconry in question via the online faculty system. The Archdeacon may authorise the work or part of it, but in any case of doubt or difficulty the will refer the matter to the Diocesan Advisory Committee and the Chancellor.
- Health & Safety Executive - guidance notes
- Common Sense Risk Management of Trees - detailed advice from the National Tree Safety Group
- Ancient yews - Many old yews are subject to special recording and protection
National advice from Churchcare:
- Cheshire West and Chester
- Cheshire East
- Wirral Borough Council - Trees in conservation areas
- Warrington Borough Council
- Accredited contractors can be identified via www.trees.org.uk