Ash dieback is now widespread in Yorkshire ….

Ash dieback is now widespread in Yorkshire and is leading to dieback of mature ash trees, early summer is the ideal time to assess the condition of trees on your property.

 Ash Dieback is a highly destructive fungal infection of ash trees that leads to leaf loss and canopy decline which can ultimately cause trees to die and lead to structural failure which may cause harm to people or property.

It is important that landowners understand their responsibilities.

Understanding the law

Under both the civil law and criminal law, an owner of land on which a tree stands has responsibilities for the health and safety of those on or near the land and has potential liabilities arising from the falling of a tree or branch.

The civil law gives rise to duties and potential liabilities to pay damages in the event of a breach of those duties.

The criminal law gives rise to the risk of prosecution in the event of an infringement of the criminal law.

The landowner should have a policy in place to manage the risk from trees on their property.

Reasonable public safety must be the top priority when assessing what action to take on the trees you own.

Levels of risk will range from low to high.

Examples of locations where trees may present elevated levels of risks are:

  • roads,
  • car parks,
  • railways,
  • well-used public spaces,
  • playgrounds,
  •  schoolgrounds ‘
  • public right of ways.

Where ash trees pose a low safety risk, for example trees in hedges between two fields with no public access, they can be left to decline naturally so they can continue to contribute benefits to the environment

Following official guidance

To help landowners understand the risk of harm posed by their trees and to manage such risk in a reasonable, balanced and proportionate way, national guidance has been produced by the National Tree Safety Group (NTSG) which should be followed by all tree owners. NTSG’s approach follows five key principles:

  • Trees provide a wide variety of benefits to society
  • Trees are living organisms that naturally lose branches or fall
  • The overall risk to human safety is extremely low
  • Tree owners have a legal duty of care
  • Tree owners should take a balanced and proportionate approach to tree safety management, if you have any concerns about the health of your ash trees, you should consult a tree professional.

Stephenson rural can provide guidance on managing trees on your land, arrange tree surveys and organised contractors to carry out the work.

Oliver Combe

01904 489731

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