We have been made aware of cold-calling, potentially uninsured contractors claiming to be tree surgeons operating in the districts, targeting vulnerable (particularly elderly) residents and claiming to be fully qualified, fully insured tree surgeons, offering to do tree and garden works for cash.  They are stating they can carry out works to protected trees legally and provide residents with a certificate to submit to us to avoid prosecution.  No such certificate exists and this is not the case.  An application to SHDC/WDBC in some form is required prior to carrying out works to any trees subject to a TPO or in a Conservation Area.

If you hear of any residents being approached by such contractors, please encourage them to take as many contact details for the contractors as possible along with vehicle registration numbers and descriptions of the individuals (if safe to do so) and report them to the police on 101 or via their website at https://www.police.uk/101/.

Please also observe the following important points:

  • Prior to agreeing to any tree works, residents should check the contractor’s insurance certificate and qualifications – anyone who has gone through the training and paid the necessary insurance premiums will be proud to share the information with prospective clients. A checklist for choosing a tree surgeon is available here
  • If the trees are protected by a TPO or in a Conservation Area, residents will need to be in receipt of written consent from the SHDC or WDBC Tree Officer in a decision notice or occasionally email prior to carrying out works to such trees to avoid potential investigation which may lead to prosecution.  Resident’s responsibilities in relation to ‘Protected Trees’ are outlined via the following links:
  • Guidance on how to find a suitably qualified, fully insured tree surgeon is available from the Arboricultural Association via www.trees.org.uk (specifically https://www.trees.org.uk/Help-Advice/Public/Choose-your-Tree-Surgeon).

It would be most helpful if you could please include the main message of this email about checking for insurance and qualifications and the need for planning permission in some form via your parish magazine if possible.  We are circulating warnings via social media.  However, it is probable the target market of these contractors are a group less likely to use social media.

If you have any queries, please email trees@swdevon.gov.uk.

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