Tree work contractor

All tree owners are responsible for making sure that their trees are in a safe and healthy condition. Owners must ensure trees are not a liability to persons or property. They may need the services of a competent and well trained arborist (tree surgeon). Anyone can claim to be able to carry out tree work. To do the job right entails a lot more than having a certificate to use a chain saw. The future health of your trees depends on how the pruning is done. A good tree surgeon is someone who understands their biology and how the tree responds to each cut. Poor pruning can cause damage that will last for the life of the tree and can often reduce its life span. A competent arborist will need to be technically proficient and experienced. They must have undertaken the appropriate training. They will be able to inform you on safe and effective pruning to maintain good tree health and structure.

What qualifications should a tree surgery contractor have?

Find out about the NPTC City and Guilds / LANTRA Award Certificates for chain saw use. It is compulsory to have these qualifications. Advanced qualifications include certificates and diplomas in arboriculture. These help give a more complete understanding of appropriate work for the situation. The contractor should work to the latest version of British Standard 3998. This is essential, particularly for trees with a Tree Preservation Order.

Arborists must follow Health and Safety regulations including:

  • Regular inspections of safety clothing, climbing equipment, ropes and machinery (LOLER checks);
  • Records to show completed LOLER checks;
  • Provision for the safety of others.
  • Use of warning signs, barriers and cones when working near the public highway.
  • Have training in First Aid, with a current certificate.

How much insurance should a tree surgery contractor have?

Always ask to see their current certificates of insurance for Employers' Liability and Public Liability. The recommended minimum level of cover is £5 million.


Contractors should be willing to provide a written quotation and it is advisable to obtain at least two. A written quotation should include the contractor's name, address and contact telephone number, a clear description of the work to be undertaken with reference to BS 3998, what will happen to the timber and other arisings, what happens to the stumps, who will check if the trees are protected and protection measures for your property, where necessary (the risk assessment). It should also clearly state whether VAT is included and how long the quotation is valid for. It is also worth requesting contact details of recent customers/referees to see examples of their work. Remember, reputable contractors do not generally knock on doors looking for work and should be able to provide copies of their insurance, qualifications and professional memberships. They will be aware of, and work to, British Standard 3998. Go to ARB Approved Contractor Directory on the Arboricultural Association website or the International Society of Arboriculture for further information.

What if my tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order?

If your tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order, permission from us is required before carrying out any tree surgery work whatsoever. This permission can be obtained either by yourself, as owner, or by the contractor, as your agent. Failure to gain consent could lead to prosecution of both parties.

What if I live in a Conservation Area?

If your property is within a Conservation Area, you must give a minimum of six weeks' written notice to us of any work to a tree with a stem diameter of 75mm, or greater, when measured at 1.5m above ground level. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in prosecution.

Download the 1APP Tree Work Application Form (PDF: 466Kb / 4 pages) from the Planning Portal.

Contact details and advice on trees outside the National Parks

Contact Planning Technician on the details below for advice about whether your tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order.

Contact details and advice on trees in the National Parks

Lake District National Park Authority

See trees and hedgerows on the Lake District National Park website.

Go to contact us on the Lake District National Park website for all the their contact details.

Yorkshire Dales National Park:

See trees and woodlands on the Yorkshire Dales National Park website.

Go to contact trees and woodland team on the Yorkshire Dales National Park website for their contact details.

For advice on felling trees in the countryside

Go to tree felling on the GOV.UK for an overview and advice from the Forestry Commission.

To help protect Britain's trees and woodland, you will require a felling licence from the Forestry Commission to fell most trees.

Last updated: Wednesday, 17 May, 2023.