Beware of bogus tree surgeons

Members of the public are urged to be vigilant of rogue tree surgeons after numerous reports of cold-call tradesmen operating across Bath and North East Somerset.

“Several local residents have been approached by tradesmen posing as qualified tree surgeons offering to cut down or provide maintenance to garden trees in exchange for cash,” said Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North). “Not only is this potentially dangerous for the tradesmen, it can also cause lasting damage to the tree, possible damage to the property and, in some cases, may result in enforcement action from the Council.”

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Some genuine tree surgeons at work in Sydney Gardens last year.

Bath and many of its surrounding villages and hamlets are covered by Conservation Area designations. In addition, some trees (including trees located in private gardens) may be subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) – which protects specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. The Council must be notified six weeks in advance of intended works to a tree located within a Conservation Area or covered by a TPO unless a specific exemption applies (such as where a tree poses a risk to the public). To cut down, uproot or destroy a tree covered by a TPO or within a Conservation Area, or to authorise such an action to take place, is considered an offence under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Rogue tree surgeons are therefore leaving landowners potentially liable to criminal prosecution.

Work to trees will often require careful consideration by an experienced Arboriculturalist or a person who is practiced in assessing the health of trees and their appropriate management. Tree works should also ideally be undertaken outside of the bird nesting season (March – October) to prevent destruction of eggs and harm to birds protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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More genuine tree surgery underway on the River Avon side of Bath Spa Station.

The Council would advise anyone who is considering undertaking or contracting work to trees on their property to first ensure that the trees are not located within a Conservation Area or covered by a TPO. The Arboricultural Association provides a Directory of Tree Surgeons on their website which lists professional, qualified tree surgeons by name, area or postcode. The website also contains information relating to good tree care.

If residents remain in doubt as to the works that can be undertaken to trees covered by a TPO or located within a Conservation Area they can contact the Council for further advice and guidance by emailing Trees_andWoodlands@BATHNES.GOV.UK or calling 01225 394041.