What is a tree survey?

A tree survey is a detailed analysis of the trees in a given area for use in planning, developing or insurance enquiries. It’s an in-depth report that will help landowners and developers understand if any proposed works will have an impact on the local environment. Based on the results of this tree report, a full understanding of whether the trees will offer any restrictions to the planning can be verified.

Therefore, the tree’s detailed information in a tree survey will determine which trees can remain, are to be removed or are even protected (such as under a tree preservation order).

A qualified arborist must be used, as these tree surveyors will ensure the report is performed to the BS5837 regulations. This is a British Standard that defines how trees can be affected by the design, demolition or construction phases of a proposed development.

In this tree survey the following points will be reported about trees on site:

  • Species
  • Locations on the site (longitude, latitude),
  • health condition,
  • Age of tree,
  • Detailed measurements including the height, crown spread and diameter,

These points will then lead to the tree being categorised, and conclude in a recommendation into whether the tree is to remain or be removed. This conclusion will be represented in a simple to read site map, that clearly highlights the trees and the recommendation of their future.

Why is a tree survey required?

Tree surveys are mainly required so informed decisions can be made in matters of public safety, protection of wildlife and the environmental impacts of proposed building developments. If you own land and plan to build or extend a property near trees, you will most likely require a tree survey to support your planning application.

In terms of planning, tree surveys can be used to ensure any proposed construction or demolition of a site development does not breach the laws of the United Kingdom. It’s important these tree reports are undertaken by a professional arborist to highlight any tree-related issues that could arise from any proposed work.

There are legislations that will support recommendations in a tree survey, such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act and Tree Protection Orders (TPOs). Furthermore, the surrounding environment can be assessed in an Arboricultural Impact Assessment, to highlight the impact during developments, such as the effects of heavy machinery on tree roots.

Additionally, tree surveys can also be used to identify potential hazards, such as are the trees in a public area are at risk of falling due to severe storm damage or disease. Highlighting these hazards early means decisions can be made to intervene, such as feeling the decayed tree before it falls over.

Should you be a homebuyer or a homeowner, usually a tree report for mortgages or insurance purposes will be required to evidence potential hazards relating to trees damaging the property.

BS5837 tree surveys will help avoid any future legal issues and time delays to developments, planning or land purchases. In interests of public safety, these tree reports will identify potential hazards and support the “duty of care” to site visitors or passing traffic.

Areas where we perform tree surveys

Arb Tree Surveys have a team of qualified arborists to perform tree surveys across the UK. With experience in large-sized projects such as road developments, demolition and large scale building projects – you can be sure as a commercial or local government, we can perform our duties to expert levels.

Additionally, if you are a private homeowner or estate manager, we can deliver cost-effective mortgage tree reports, tree surveys for planning applications and health and safety assessments.

It does not matter how big the location or the magnitude of the planned project, our qualified tree surveyors will conduct an in-depth tree survey that supplies all the information needed that easy to understand with conclusive results.

All our surveys and reports and performed within the guidelines laid out but the arborist industry and legal guidelines. This being the “BS5837: 2012 –  Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction”

Any risks or potential damage to nearby trees in a planning development needs to be assessed using the guidelines laid out in the British Standards BS5837. Therefore, you will be required to seek arborist advice to ensure your planning application covers the impact on trees in the site and surrounding environment.

To maximise the efficiency to provide evidence of any impact of your proposed planning development, you shall receive the supporting documents:

  • BS5837 Tree Survey,
  • Tree Constraints Plan,
  • Root Protection Areas,
  • Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA).
  • Tree Protection Plan,
  • Arboricultural Method Statement.

See a list of areas our surveys can cover below.


For constructions sites, it’s incredibly important a tree survey report is obtained before any site works can begin. These reports must be incredibly detailed underlying site access and layouts.

This is to ensure the impacts on trees and their health in the area are protected which includes the surrounding soil and roots. The areas of protection are covered in the BS5837 tree survey and will list areas that need to have additional preventative measures. These can include ground coverings to protect tree roots from traffic, fencing to restrict access from wildlife and pruning back trees to passing construction traffic.


Tree owners have a legal liability to ensure the safety of visitors on their land, classed as a duty of care which can be found under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984. For this reason, it’s vital regular Tree Risk Management inspections are undertaken to identify any potential hazards to the public.

These hazards generally include trees at risk of falling due to storm damage or decay, overhanging trees on public pathways or road and diseased trees that can impact the local environment.

By assessing and identifying hazardous trees regularly, the preventative measures can be applied by an arborist to protect the public from the risk of death or injury.

For insurance purposes, even by Local Councils, those responsible for the land must show regular tree inspections have taken place and a survey produced by a qualified tree surveyor. The general rule is tree should be inspected every three years, however, should the health of a tree change – it should be inspected immediately. For example, after a dangerous storm, it’s advisable for the tree to be inspected.

Arb Tree Surveys provide a tailored approach to tree surveys for homebuyers and homeowners in respect of a home purchase or mortgage / insurance renewal. We consider the trees within impacting and influencing distance of structures and review the likely, anticipated and foreseeable risk of direct and indirect damage (subsidence) being caused to built structures from trees and vegetation.

Also, we consider all trees on and around your property in respect of H&S tree risk management (see above). We undertake a tree survey assessment and provide recommendations to mitigate tree defects and pruning advice to suitably manage your trees. Our specialist team provide a prompt survey and fast report turnaround to address the considerations which you, your advisors and other professionals require.


Trees can cause damage to hard surfaces (driveways, paths etc.), light structures (walls, outbuildings etc.) and buildings. Tree/vegetation related damage can be from direct contact and displacement from roots, stem contact or branch contact. Or, damage may be indirect by vegetative influence, i.e. from the extraction of water from shrinkable soils.

Whether it be a preliminary site assessment due to the perceived risk from trees/vegetation, or a detailed investigation of tree-related building damage, our specialist tree consultants can provide preventative and reactive recommendations for tree/vegetation management. We provide tree reports for insurers and work in conjunction with loss adjusters, geotechnical/structural engineers, lawyers and nearby resident to establish the cause of any damage and suggest solutions.

The right initial advice will allow for preventative site management, pruning works and tree felling to be undertaken. Also, advice early after the identification of building damage can allow for the problem to be promptly remediated.


Is my tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?
Is my house, my land or my tree located within a Conservation Area?

Arb Tree Surveys can undertake a baseline H&S tree survey to assess your trees and provide suitable and defensible recommendations for tree risk mitigation and tree stock management. If your trees are protected by TPO or contained within a Conservation Area then you may need Council permission or to submit a prior notification of your intended tree works to the Council.

You can often check whether your trees are protected by TPO or whether a tree is located within a Conservation Area by visiting your local Council website, or you may contact your local authority Tree Officer directly. Should you need prior advice on the management of your trees, assistance in establishing the statutory controls and protection of your trees, or liaising with the local council, contact us for free advice and a fixed cost quote for our tree survey report options.

We understand how to work with local councils, having delivered tree surveys to a number of clients looking for planning application approval on land where there have been trees that require protecting. So, we know how to help you with extensive tree reports. The service at Arb Tree Surveys is built on a commitment by everyone in our team, including our tree surveyors, to strive for a consistent level of high quality. We offer practical and reliable project solutions, always searching for innovative ways to improve the service we offer our clients.

Every single tree survey report is delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner, ensuring that each time a client gets in touch with us, they can be sure that we will match, or exceed, their expectations.


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