Gardeners could face huge £20k fine for cutting down certain trees – ‘fineable offence’

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England is currently experiencing some of the hottest weather on record, with more surging temperatures on the way. The country’s dry spell has led to hosepipe bans and wildfires across parts of the south of England. As the nation braces for another heatwave with highs of 35C, Paul Chappell owner of forestry tool supply company DTW Tools, has shared his tree care tips to help gardeners avoid any unwanted fines while keeping trees healthy during the unpredictable weather.

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Contact a tree surgeon

Gardeners need to be aware of the laws in place when removing and caring for trees, so those who are unsure of their trees’ status should contact a tree surgeon.

It is actually a “fineable offence” to cut down, uproot and destroy any tree that is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), in a Conservation Area or over five cubic metres in volume (whether an individual tree or several smaller trees).

Gardeners or homeowners who breach these rules could be fined up to £20,000, prosecuted for felling without a licence and served a notice to replace any protected trees that have been destroyed.

Serious offences may be subject to unlimited fines.

Fines for breaching felling licences can vary depending on the country and offence.

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Wales is a fine of up to £2,500 or twice the value of the trees – whichever is higher.

In Scotland, it’s up to £5,000 per tree, and a criminal record for those involved in the felling of the tree(s).

England and Northern Ireland do not specify a maximum amount.

Anyone who suspects a tree has been cut down illegally should contact their local planning authority of the relevant Government department.

Prune trees

Gardeners should remove diseased, dead or dangerous branches to prolong the life of their trees and keep them healthy over the summer.

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Before pruning smaller branches, it’s important to assess the tree.

Larger branches may need the help of a professional tree surgeon.

Pruning trees during the summer months also allows them to have better exposure to sunlight and improves their appearance.

Inspect the health of the tree

Look for obvious signs of distress like dead branches, late blooms or early leaf drop.

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Leaves should be a healthy colour and be a good size and shape.

Look out for signs of pest damage, water stress, technical damage and nutrient deficiencies.

The tree’s appearance should reveal whether it is in distress.

Reinforce and protect trees

The weather can be unpredictable in this country.

Hot, dry weather could turn into strong winds and heavy rainfall.

To limit the damage caused by this, try tying back the tree, securing it to stakes or removing weak branches.

The tree will remain stable and strong, especially if it is young.

Make sure to correctly fertilise the soil

Insufficient nutrient levels can cause problems which is why soil care is important to tree health.

Mulching the area around the tree will keep the tree healthy, especially during droughts.

Mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil and shields the tree’s roots from high temperatures.

To mulch around the tree, remove the grass around the tree and cover the roots in organic mulch.

This will help increase the amount of moisture in the soil for the roots to absorb, while regulating the soil’s temperature.

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