Tree Disease and Storm Damage

Tree Disease

If you see spreading cases of diseased trees in the District you are advised to identify the nature of the disease and take the necessary actions/precautions as recommended by the Forestry Commission. Do feel free to notify us via email at planning@southbucks.gov.uk

Storm Damage to Trees

I have a number of trees that have been damaged by gales. What should I do?
Often storm damage will affect weak points on the tree, such as a tight/compression fork or pollard re-growth branch unions. Such damage is likely to leave a large wound. Whilst the tree may remain structurally safe for some years following the damage, decay can develop as a result of the wound and the tree may become unsafe, ultimately requiring its removal. If a tree has been damaged in a storm it would be advisable to contact a tree specialist to provide an assessment of the stability of the tree and to recommend any remedial works that may be necessary having first obtaining any necessary consents/giving notice. You can go to the Arboricultural Association for a list of approved contractors and Consultants.

Some trees, Cedar trees in particular, are prone to damage from a build up of snow on their branches. In wintery conditions where there is a build up of snow it may be necessary to employ a tree surgeon to shake the snow off the major limbs to prevent failure. Should a limb fail under the weight of snow build up then you would be advised to follow the advice for storm damage.

What can I do about clearing storm damaged trees in my garden?
Even if the tree from which the branch has fallen is protected by a TPO you are entitled to clear any branches that have fallen or are hanging from a tree. The removal of such branches is covered by an exemption to all TPO's. If a whole protected tree has been blown over in a storm then this may also be cleared under the same exemption but best practice dictates that you should provide the Council with five days written notice of its proposed removal. See Protected Trees for more information.

Do not be tempted to use a chainsaw to fell or cut up damaged trees unless you are qualified to do so and have the appropriate protective clothing. Every year many hundreds of people are seriously injured using chainsaws in their gardens. Even cutting up fallen branches with a chainsaw is hazardous and members of the public are advised to always use a qualified tree surgeon. You can go to the Arboricultural Association for a list of approved contractors and Consultants.

There are trees near my house that are swaying alarmingly in the wind. Are they unsafe?
Swaying is not necessarily abnormal; and some trees may even appear to sway alarmingly. However, trees are 'self optimising structures' and respond to external forces such as the wind and lay down adaptive growth to compensate for the sway. A stable but flexible structure is often far more resistant to wind damage than a solid rigid structure. Coniferous trees tend to move in the wind more than deciduous trees, but it does not necessary mean a tree is going to fall. If you have any doubt whether a tree has been moved by gales, you should seek specialist tree advice. You can go to the Arboricultural Association for a list of approved contractors and Consultants.

My tree appears to be leaning. Does this mean it is unsafe?
Trees lean for many reasons; often the lean has developed from a natural growth response to competition from other trees. If the top portion of a leaning tree sweeps back to the vertical it is unlikely the lean has recently developed and the tree, providing it is healthy, is likely to be structurally stable. However, if the whole symmetry of the tree is at an unnatural angle the tree may have been moved by gales.

Even if a tree appears not to have moved you may wish to inspect the immediate base of the tree. If there are cracks in the soil radiating away from the base of the trunk, the tree will require a more thorough inspection by a competent arborist. If you have any doubt as to whether a tree is unsafe, you should seek specialist tree advice. You can go to the Arboricultural Association for a list of approved contractors and Consultants.

My tree is protected by a TPO and has been damaged by storm winds. What should I do?
If a tree that is protected by a TPO or in a Conservation Area suffers storm damage, you may carry out what ever work is necessary to make it safe without delay. The work must be the minimum required to make the tree safe and any additional work will require an application/notice to the Council. You must inform the Council at the first opportunity, regarding the works that have been carried out to the protected tree. If a protected tree has been blown down in the storm or has been damaged in such a way that in the interests of safety it should be felled, then you a may be required to replace it during the next planting season.

It is important to remember that it is your responsibility, if challenged, to be able to prove that any work you have carried out on a protected tree was essential to make the tree safe. Therefore, it is good practice to make a good photographic record of storm damage to protected trees and to contact the Council prior to felling or removing them. See Protected Trees for more information.