Guide to Working with The Sussex Tree Company LLP:
We are very keen to provide a quality service and a high level of customer satisfaction. Please take a few minutes to read the terms and conditions of our contract.
Standard of work:
Consultancy works: All consultancy works are conducted in accordance with Industry Best Practice & to the standards set out in the British Standard documents: BS: 5837, Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction, (2012) for surveying/reporting for works on development sites; BS: 8596, Surveying for in trees and woodland, (2015) for surveying for Bats/ European Protected Species, (EPS); BS 8545, From nursery to independence in the landscape, (2014), for tree specimen selection and tree planting.
Operational works: All operational works shall be completed in line with BS:3998 Recommendations for Tree Work, (2012), where appropriate –unless instructed otherwise by the customer. We shall undertake the work in a competent manner in compliance with the specification and price contained in our quotation.
Acceptance of the contract and programming of the work:
On acceptance of our quotation, (whether verbal or in writing), a binding contract, (the Contract), will be formed between us and you, (the Client). ‘Non-commercial’ or ‘Private’ clients are entitled to a 14-day cooling off period following acceptance of the quotation. However, if within this 14-day cooling off period you instruct us to carry out any of the works contained in our quotation you will have waived your right to this cooling off period. When you accept the quotation, we will start the work planning process which may include dealing with permissions from the Local Authority. We will advise you of the estimated completion date for your work.
Amendments / Cancellation of the Contract:
Amendments to, or cancellation of, the Contract must be made in writing. In the event of a cancellation, we may charge a percentage of the quotation to cover any preparatory work already undertaken and any costs already incurred. If materials or stock is purchased for the fulfilment of the Contract during the 14-day cooling-off period, we will seek to recover the costs of these in their entirety,(should a confirmed commission be retracted).
In the event of a variation to the quotation as a result of:
- Amendments to works required prior to arriving on site.
- Changes in site / ground conditions since the original visit; or
- Additional works requested / required whilst on site
The quotation will be revised accordingly, either electronically in advance or in a hand-written note on the day of work, with agreed amendments signed by us and you.
In the unlikely event that you have any cause for complaint please contact the office within 7 days and we will endeavour to correct the situation in a timely manner.
Consultancy works: For all works, delivery of reports follows from the quoted works, after field work is completed – (the project’s quote document will be referred to when invoicing). All reports or analyses from a quoted project are delivered to the client electronically, via email, (hard copies are available for delivery upon request; in such cases, the Client accepts payment responsibility for additional printing and postage costs). The office will invoice ‘delivered’ projects within 7 days of delivery. All contracts, projects and instructions are accepted on the basis of payment of full invoice price 28 days after the receipt of the invoice. Where applicable, value added tax (VAT) shall be charged at the current rate. With large or on-going projects where more than one quote applies, the Client will be invoiced
Operational works: Upon job completion, the team leader will ask you to sign the job sheet to confirm your satisfaction. Please only sign this when you are satisfied that all items are completed. Please raise any queries with the team leader or the office before signing the job off. The office will invoice ‘signed off’ jobs within 7 days. All contracts and instructions are accepted on the basis of payment of full invoice price 28 days after the receipt of the invoice. Where applicable, value added tax (VAT) shall be charged at the current rate.
Project delivery: Once instructed, we will advise the Client of intended project dates: site visits and report deliveries. Wherever possible, we will deliver reports 2 working weeks from the date of the site visit. In circumstances where this is not possible, we advise Clients and of the reasons why.
Site visits: In most circumstances, preparation of reports or analyses require a site visit. Wherever possible, the timing of site visits will be arranged with the Client, however, in certain circumstances it may not be practical or possible to do so. We endeavour to liaise collaboratively with Clients, but where sites are open or public access we reserve the right to undertake site visits without prior notice to the Client. Where sites which are owned or managed by the Client, but are not occupied by the Client and are not open or public access, we require the Client to supply the occupiers contact details so we can arrange access, or for the Client to act as our agent and arrange access at a time which is convenient to our consultants.
Tree Condition Surveys: Trees are surveyed from ground level, using the VTA method. Tree Condition Surveys, (TCS), are presented in report form with a survey spreadsheet embedded within the report document. If requested, a separate Microsoft Excel spreadsheet of the survey data can be delivered along with the report document. Unless otherwise requested, the report document contains a basic site plan, to aid with locating surveyed trees in the environment.We suggest using a combination of the basic site plan and the identification data within the TCS spreadsheet is sufficient in the majority of circumstances to locate individual trees in the environment. We can provide a geo-located plan, this service incurs additional costs and must be requested before project commencement, ifa geo-located plan is requested, a separate quote document is provided detailing these extra costs, and written confirmation of commission is required prior to project commencement. Tree survey reports endeavour to establish whether any trees surveyed are subject to any statutory protections.
- Tree surveys can be either positive, negative or a combination of both. Positive surveys are where every tree in a specified location is surveyed, whether they are hazardous or not and pose risks to site users; positive tree surveys are usually undertaken on sites with relatively small numbers of trees. A negative survey is where not every tree is surveyed, but every tree which is hazardous, in whole or in part, or located in specific ‘high-risk / concern’ areas of a particular site is surveyed.
- Trees / groups of trees are assigned numbers, which correspond to marked areas on the tree location plan. Where trees have historic tree-tag numbers, these are recorded in the survey. New tree-tags can be attached to trees ifwe are instructed to do so by the Client. Tags used are Latschbacher Arbo Tags. Additional charges apply to the insertion of tree tags at the rate of £1 per tag.
- Trees are identified by botanical and common names – in certain circumstances identification may generic or not be achievable – and this is stated in the TCS spreadsheet
- Measurements included in the TCS are accurate to tolerable levels unless stated: tree heights are measured in metres using a Haglöf clinometer; tree stem diameters are either measured using a Diameter at Breast Height, (DBH), tape, or callipers, or estimated into DBH bands.
- Trees are classified by age class – a subjective judgment on the extent of maturation of each tree or group of trees surveyed is made, (‘Age Class’ column in the TCS spreadsheet). Details of the different age classes can be found in the appendices of a TCS report document.
- An assessment of the tree or its features and the likelihood whether these presents a suitable potential habitat for bats or other EPS is made for each tree surveyed, (‘Bat Habitat Potential’ in the TCS spreadsheet). Details can be found in the appendices of a TCS report document.
- An appraisal of the tree or group of trees present overall structural status and physiological health, as well as any significant pre-existing external environmental impacts is made for each tree surveyed, (‘Condition’ column in the TCS spreadsheet). Details can be found in the appendices of a TCS report document.
- An assessment of the observed hazards presented by the tree/group of trees and associated features, and the categorisation of the severity of risk these present to persons or property is made for each tree surveyed, (‘Risk Rating’ column in the TCS Spreadsheet). Details can be found in the appendices of a TCS report document.
- Recommendations for remedial works, to reduce risks presented trees or parts of trees, or reasonable management practices are made for every tree surveyed, (‘Recommendations’ column in the TCS spreadsheet). Details can be found in the appendices of a TCS report document.
- For every tree which has recommendation works made, a work priority is made, (‘Works Priority’ column in the TCS spreadsheet). Details can be found in the appendices of a TCS report document.
- Further explanatory notes on interpreting the data contained in the TCS report document and spreadsheet is contained in the appendices.
The TCS survey is valid for 3 years. Recommendations, if followed and delivered, reduce the risks presented by the trees for a period of 3 years to a level of ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’, (ALARP), unless the trees experience a severe weather event – in which case they can no longer be considered ‘safe’ and liability-free. In these circumstances, or after 3 years have expired, re-surveying is required, and any remedial recommendations must be carried out to achieve the level of ALARP risk. Sever weather events are storm-type winds, prolonged and heavy rain that results in waterlogging of the tree’s rooting zones or heavy snowfall.
Arboricultural reports in support of planning applications, (BS:5837 works): Arboricultural planning reports can be:
- Arboricultural Impact Assessments
- Tree Surveys, (BS:5837)
- Tree Constraints Plans
- Tree Protection Plans
- Arboricultural Method Statements
Projects can contain all or some of the above, dependant on Client specification / need.
All reports follow the recommendations made in the BS:5837 (2012) document. Please refer to this document for further details.
Tree surveys differ from Tree Condition Surveys. Measurements are taken on site and are made using a Haglöf clinometer, a DBH tape and a Ridgid Laser measurer.
Tree locations are made by triangulation measurements against fixed, known objects on the site. In certain circumstances, tree locations are taken from topographical plans supplied to us by Clients or their agents. For the purpose of Tree Constraints and Tree Protection Plans, we will create our own site plans or superimpose our findings onto Client-provided topographical plans. Plans are provided in PDF or AutoCAD format, (or both),which is stated in the project’s quote document.
Our liability ends upon delivery of the reports, (unless the Client instructs us as Project Arboriculturalist for the demolition / construction phases of the proposed development and we are tasked with overseeing specified works by the Client). We cannot be liable for the fulfilment of recommendations made in an Arboricultural Method Statementor planning conditions resulting from them unless assigned as Project Arboriculturalist.
As Project Arboriculturalist, our liabilities are limited to specifying and overseeing recommendations – not installing tree protection measures, (unless operationally commissioned to do so).
Tree Planting / Installation Plans: we are happy to provide or advise Clients with Tree PlantingSchemes or Installation Plans – as well as procurement of specimens and their installation.
Hazard Assessments: Hazard Assessments are detailed analyses of a tree’s or a group of tree’s potential of failure, (in whole or in part), its hazards or its hazardous features. Trees are analysed systematically following practices established in the Professional Tree Inspector course and assessment, from ground level. Hazard Assessments contain a Tree Survey of the trees inspected. Findings are presented in report format. The reports may contain remedial recommendations, which, if followed and delivered, reduce the risks presented by the tree(s) for a period of 3 years to a level of ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’, (ALARP), unless the trees experience a severe weather event – in which case they can no longer be considered ‘safe’ and liability-free. In these circumstances, or after 3 years have expired, re-surveying is required, and any remedial recommendations must be carried out to achieve the level of ALARP risk. Sever weather events are storm-type winds, prolonged and heavy rain that results in waterlogging of the tree’s rooting zones or heavy snowfall. Hazard Assessment reports endeavour to establish whether any trees surveyed are subject to any statutory protections.
Aerial Inspections: Aerial inspections are detailed analyses of a tree’s or a group of tree’s potential of failure, (in whole or in part), its hazards or its hazardous features. Trees are analysed systematically following practices established in the Professional Tree Inspector and Aerial Inspection courses and working at height to gain a closer analysis of potentially hazardous features. Aerial inspections contain an aerial inspection sheet. The reports may contain remedial recommendations, which, if followed and delivered, reduce the risks presented by the tree(s) for a period of 3 years to a level of ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’, (ALARP), unless the trees experience a severe weather event – in which case they can no longer be considered ‘safe’ and liability-free. In these circumstances, or after 3 years have expired, re-surveying is required, and any remedial recommendations must be carried out to achieve the level of ALARP risk. Severe weather events are storm-type winds, prolonged and heavy rain that results in water logging of the tree’s rooting zones or heavy snowfall. Aerial Investigation reports endeavour to establish whether any trees surveyed are subject to any statutory protections.
Mortgage / subsidence reports: Mortgage / subsidence reports seek to establish whether trees, groups of trees or large shrubs located at or near to a property present a risk to the property in respect of direct damage or subsidence. A detailed analysis of the property, its underlying geology and the potentially affecting vegetation is undertaken. A site plan is produced to assist with tree location and report understanding. A tree survey is undertaken; this differs from a tree condition survey and is labelled ‘Tree Assessment Data’:
- Trees / groups of trees are assigned numbers, which correspond to marked areas on the site plan.
- Trees are identified by botanical and common names – in certain circumstances identification may generic or not be achievable – and this is stated in the Tree Assessment Data spreadsheet
- Measurements included in the Tree Assessment Data are accurate to tolerable levels unless stated: tree heights are measured in metres using a Haglöf clinometer; tree stem diameters are either measured using a Diameter at Breast Height, (DBH), tape, or callipers, or estimated into DBH bands.
- Trees are classified by age class – a subjective judgment on the extent of maturation of each tree or group of trees surveyed is made, (‘Age Class’ column in the Tree Assessment Dataspreadsheet).
- An appraisal of the tree or group of trees present overall physiological health, as well as any significant pre-existing external environmental impacts is made for each tree surveyed, (‘Physiological Health’ column in the Tree Assessment Dataspreadsheet).
- An appraisal of the tree’s growth potential is made – this references the classification in the relevant NHBC literature, (‘Growth Potential’ in the Tree Assessment Dataspreadsheet).
- The trees distance to pertinent features of the building / site are measured, (‘Distance 1 – 4’ columns in the Tree Assessment Dataspreadsheet).
- The trees, groups of trees or large shrubs are given a Subsidence Risk Factor– this references the classification in the relevant NHBC literature, , (‘Subsidence Risk Factor’ column inthe Tree Assessment Dataspreadsheet).
- Other significant risks are recorded in the Tree Assessment Dataspreadsheet. These are those risks which are not subsidence risks.
- Remedial recommendations are made, (‘Recommendations; column in the Tree Assessment Dataspreadsheet), which, if followed, remove the identify risks for a period of 3 years from the date of surveying.
Arboricultural mortgage / subsidence reports analyse, comment and suggest remedial recommendations on trees, it is important to understand Arboricultural Consultants are not Structural or Building Engineers, and any observations or comments on built structures are not to be relied upon. Where confusion exists on these matters, to seek or establish clarity we recommend engaging the services of a qualified Structural or Building Engineer.
Expert Witness services: We are happy to be engaged as expert witnesses, referring to our own work or projects we have been directly involved with, or for comment and analysis on other tree-related matters. We can only comment on matters within our experiential knowledge – and will endeavour to clarify the extent of that at quote stage. Where engaged, we will always seek to reach a collaborative solution or opinion with other expert witnesses acting for the other parties in a legal dispute in the first instance. We rely upon our Clients or their agents for the provision of all the relevant documents applicable to the matter(s) in question.
Tree Protection Issues: We are happy to be engaged as agents in matters regarding statutory protections for trees. In such situations, we advise Clients on the law and assert to create the best outcome for them with any Local Planning Authorities or other statutory bodies, whilst acting within the law.
Disposal of waste: Unless otherwise stated in the quote, all waste will be removed from the site, transported for disposal / recycling according to regulations. Some Clients wish to retain some or all of the waste arising from operational works. Woodchips make useful garden mulch and we increasingly find Clients requesting chip is left for their own use. Timber left for firewood is not normally left in sizes ‘ready for the fire’,(unless specified in the quotation).
Stump grinding: Stump removal is by use of a stump grinding machine and is normally carried out within a few days of the felling rather than on the same day. We will call you to arrange a convenient time to undertake this work. Debris from the operation, ‘the grindings’, is used to backfill the resulting hole,(as they decompose rapidly and add vegetative matter to soils). The chippings can be removed from site, but this incurs an additional cost. We grind the main stump, the ‘root plate’ immediately below the stump and any large lateral roots in the main area of the stump. We do not ‘chase’ every root back from the stump unless by prior costed arrangement with the customer. If, in the process of stump grinding, we uncover buried asbestos waste, material suspected to be buried asbestos waste or other hazardous material, we will cease the excavation immediately. In such circumstances, the Client agrees to settle the invoice in full in line with our payment terms on the basis that we complete the operation once a specialist contractor has cleared the hazardous material. The Client meets the costs of the clearance of the hazardous material. If the cutting head is damaged by hitting buried metal or rubble the Client agrees to meet the cost of replacement of the stump-grinder teeth.
Neighbouring property – access: Sometimes it is necessary to have access to a neighbouring property, particularly when branches overhang. Clients agree to inform neighbours of their intention to carry out work and the date(s) on when it takes place.
Collateral damage to Client property: Whilst our staff operate with care and diligence our work can entail the carrying of large amount of material over lawns and past features. Please ensure vulnerable surfaces, such as white walls, are adequately protected, (builder’s polythene works well), and fragile objects are moved, (such as pots etc.). Our staff is happy to move heavier objects for Clients. Lawns recover rapidly, but very wet weather can give rise to muddy conditions. We can provide boards to protect the lawn, however, this is not a standard procedure and will need to be agreed at time of quoting – this may incur an additional cost. If in doubt, please discuss with our office.
Crown Reduction: This operation reduces the overall size of the crown. To avoid ambiguity, the specified end result will be stated either as the tree-height and branch-spread which are to remain, or the average equivalent in branch length, on average, (in metres), which is removed. End results shall be specified for individual branches if the growth pattern of the tree creates a need for this, or where clearance from a specific object is required
Crown Thinning: In crown thinning, an even density of foliage is removed to create a well-spaced and balanced branch structure which could, if required, provide an adequate framework for a possible future crown reduction. If the objective is to lessen the overall loading on a defective branch or stem, crown reduction and reshaping should be chosen in preference to crown thinning. The percentage of the leaf-bearing twig structure to be removed in crown thinning should be kept to the minimum required to achieve the objective and in any case, should not exceed 30%. The percentage shall be stated in the work specification. Material shall be removed systematically from throughout the tree rather than from the inner crown only. Cutting branches back to the main stem will generally be avoided, although structurally weak or hazardous branches shall be removed if there is no alternative.
Arrival on site – timings: The earliest time the team will arrive is 8.00 am. However, in the case of smaller contracts, we are not able to estimate an arrival time until late afternoon of the previous day and can only then advise either am or pm arrival. We make every effort to please clients who particularly require a morning or afternoon visit. Most jobs are completed efficiently and on time. However, a job occasionally will over-run or the weather will prevent us from working to stated timings.
Statutory restrictions to works on trees: The trees within a contract specification may be located within a Conservation Area, be subject to a Tree Preservation Order, (TPO), or planning conditions of a permitted planning order. Upon acceptance of our quote, we check for the presence of statutory protection with the Local Planning Authority, (LPA). We also assess whether a Felling Licence is required from the Forestry Commission (FC). or if any other permissions / consultations are required, i.e., Natural England / the Environment Agency. We routinely make applications on our Clients’ behalf, in respect of any permissions that are required. This service is usually included within the quoted price, but would advise that a charge may be made for this service if seeking permissions requires a significant amount of administrative time. No additional charges are applied to this work without first seeking your acceptance. We do not make any investigations in respect of private covenants affecting your property which may restrict tree work at the property, and this is the Clients’ sole responsibility. No liability shall attach to The Sussex Tree Company LLP for a breach any such covenant.
Wildlife: We undertake works as scheduled but are aware of / may be constrained by ecological and wildlife legislation including:
- Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
- Conservation of Habitats and Species Regs. 2017
This legislation requires us to assess the impact of the works which may result in works being delayed as a result of nesting birds, roosting bats or similar European Protected Species, (EPS), being present.
Biosecurity: We undertake works as scheduled but are aware of / may be constrained by bio-security issues. Where there is a bio-security risk we refer to our Bio-security Policy. In certain circumstances, adherence to the procedures set out therein may delay the timely delivery of operational projects, and may require the retention or disposal of debris arising from tree works at the site. In most circumstances, bio-security risks are identified at quoting stage, but some bio-security risks are not identified until operational works have commenced. In any circumstances, the Clients will be informed of bio-security risks as soon as is convenient to do so.
Establishment of installed trees: We obtain good quality plants which comply to BS3936 Nursery Stock – Specification for Trees and Shrubs, (2014), which are handled with care and planted to industry best-practice standards. It is important you look after your new plantings and ensure that they are regularly watered and maintained. In certain circumstances, a defect liability is applied to quoted purchase prices for trees –if trees fail to establish within the specified time period, defective trees may be replaced, at no further cost to the Client, provided the trees have received the requisite amount of post-planting aftercare, (this must be evidenced for the defect liability to apply). Trees and shrubs which fail due to circumstances beyond our control shall not be replaced. Please ask our staff for guidance on how to look after new trees if in doubt.
Stump treatment post-felling: The overwhelming majority of conifers cease to grow following felling and decay naturally – (Redwood trees do re-grow from stumps). Deciduous species re-grow from stumps. On request, we apply a single treatment of stump-killing chemicals, to manufacturer’s specification, (Eco-plug Max) – this must be stated in the quoting document and costs apply. Further treatments, (if required), attract additional cost. Alternatively, we can provide advice on products that can be bought from garden centres that can be used to treat stumps to prevent re-growth. No guarantee can be given as to the efficiency of a pesticide after application, due to conditions beyond our control.
Underground and overhead services: Although every reasonable effort shall be made to locate the presence of underground services, unless a plan showing the exact location of underground pipes, wires or cables has been forwarded to us by the Client, owner of the land or his agent prior to the formation of the Contract, we are under no liability for any damage caused as a result of work performed under the Contract to such pipes, wires or cables, or for any damage to property resulting there from, and the Client, owner of the land or his agent are solely liable for any such damage. In certain circumstances, works may require the removal of overhead power lines or telephone cables prior to commencement. We are happy to liaise with the relevant utility company to facilitate this on Clients’ behalf. Any charge for the removal of power lines or telephone cables shall be the responsibility of the Owner, unless otherwise agreed in writing with us.
Measurements: All measurements mentioned in any correspondence are approximate.
Insurance: We have £10 million Employers Liability Insurance, £5 million Public Liability Insurance and £500,000 Professional Indemnity Insurance and a copies of the certificates are available on request. We operate in accordance with good industry practice, our Health & Safety Policy and Procedures and undertake Site Specific Risk Assessments, (the outcomes of which may place constraints on the site whilst works are in progress, i.e., you can’t access your shed without prior agreement with us).
Customer Information and Data Protection: Please be reassured we only use your personal information for the purposes of completing your tree work. Our IT systems are secure, and we don’t share your details with anyone unnecessarily. We do share your details with the Local Authority if we need to make an application for permission to undertake the work and whilst it is unlikely, in certain circumstances work might need a licence from the Forestry Commission. Please refer to our customer privacy notice for full details.
General: Completion dates shall be contingent upon weather conditions.
All quotations/estimates are valid for 30 days and include any ‘value’, (monetary or otherwise), the debris arising from the works may have, unless stated otherwise. After this period, we reserve the right to withdraw and re-price work, unless otherwise agreed in writing with you.
Quotations for felling are based upon the assumption of trees being free from metal, stone, or other hidden obstructions. In the event of a tree being impossible to fell in the normal way, we reserve the right to re-quote accordingly.
The Contract price is based on the site conditions existing at the time of the preparation of the estimate remaining unchanged.
We reserve the right to cancel the contract at any time and for any reason and shall not be liable for any penalties or costs. Reasons for cancellation may be diary error, IT error, client error, third party error, changes in circumstances, misunderstanding, unreasonable or antisocial behaviour of the customer.