Guidance about working on trees in the area and how to apply to carry out the work.

Employing a tree work contractor

All tree owners are responsible for making sure that their trees are in a safe and healthy condition. Owners must ensure trees are not a liability to persons or property and may need the services of a trained arborist (tree surgeon).

A good tree surgeon is someone who understands their biology and how the tree responds to each cut. They will be technically proficient, experienced and will have undertaken the appropriate training. They will be able to inform you on safe and effective pruning to maintain good tree health and structure.

Qualifications of a contractor

NPTC City and Guilds / LANTRA Award Certificates for chain saw use are a compulsory qualification. Advanced qualifications include certificates and diplomas in arboriculture. The contractor should work to the latest version of British Standard 3998. This is essential, particularly for trees with a Tree Preservation Order.

Arborists must follow Health and Safety regulations including:

  • Regular inspections of safety clothing, climbing equipment, ropes and machinery (LOLER checks)
  • Records to show completed LOLER checks
  • Provision for the safety of others
  • Use of warning signs, barriers and cones when working near the public highway
  • First Aid training, with a current certificate


Always ask to see their current certificates of insurance for Employers' Liability and Public Liability. The recommended minimum level of cover is £5 million.


Contractors should be willing to provide a written quotation and it is advisable to obtain at least two.

Written quotations should include:

  • the contractor's name, address and contact telephone number
  • a clear description of the work to be undertaken with reference to BS 3998
  • what will happen to the timber and other arisings
  • what happens to the stumps
  • who will check if the trees are protected
  • a risk assessment for operatives on site, you and your property, and anyone else at risk during the works
  • whether VAT is included and how long the quotation is valid for

It is also worth requesting contact details of recent customers/referees to see examples of their work. Reputable contractors generally don't knock on doors looking for work and should be able to provide copies of their insurance, qualifications and professional memberships. They will be aware of, and work to, British Standard 3998.

Further information:

Work on protected trees

You will need permission from us to carry out any tree surgery work if your tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). This permission can be obtained either by yourself, as owner, or by the contractor, as your agent. Failure to gain consent could lead to prosecution of both parties.

Trees in a Conservation Area

You must give a minimum of six weeks' written notice to us of any work to a tree with a stem diameter of 75mm, or greater, when measured at 1.5m above ground level if your property is within a Conservation Area. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in prosecution.