A-Z of Services

Guidance Notes for the Protection of Trees on Development Sites

Council Aims

The council considers the retention and protection of trees within development sites essential, and this is substantiated by the policies within the Local Plan. This guidance note provides advice of the standards that Wyre Forest District Council will expect from developers for protection of trees during development.

Importance Of Trees

Trees provide many environmental benefits for urban and rural areas of Wyre Forest district. They make positive contribution to the scenic character and diversity of the landscape, provide habitat for wildlife, help clean and filter the air of dust and pollutants and provide social and cultural benefits to the local population.

The retention of trees within new development schemes provides an immediate sense of maturity, which benefits the site and its surroundings and can increase property values.

Trees are, however, vulnerable to the pressures of development activities and without appropriate care and protection may be damaged or lost because of these activities.

The Root Of The Problem

The most important part of a tree is hidden, its roots. Trees need roots for anchorage, water uptake and storing of energy all essential prerequisites for good tree health. Most tree roots occur within the top 600mm surface of soil, extending radially for distances frequently in excess of tree height.

Damaging tree roots may: kill the tree, weaken the tree, or cause the tree to fall and potentially cause injury or damage.

Protection Of Trees During Construction Activities

All trees and groups of trees to be retained must be physically protected from damage by enclosing the area covered by their crown spread (and for upright growing trees, a distance equal to half their height), or as otherwise agreed with the Local Planning Authority and indicated on the approved plans. This creates a ‘Tree Protection Zone’.

Protection Of Trees

The minimum protection required is fencing at least 1.2m high as specified below. However, further measures may be required, such as 2m high ply-board hoarding on scaffold frame work, or surface treatments. All fences and protective measures must be erected or implemented prior to any work commencing on site, including demolition, soil stripping or storage of building materials on site. The ‘Tree Protection Zone’ and protection measure should be considered sacrosanct with no unauthorised access permitted into these areas during development works.


No excavations of any kind, including those for foundations or statutory service, should be carried out where damage to roots may occur, except where agreed in advance by the Local Planning Authority and never within the ‘Tree Protection Zone’ . In particular, trenches for services should be located as far away from trees as possible and aligned to minimise the extent of disturbance. Avoid excavations on more than one side of a tree and hand dig in areas where roots may be exposed.

Ground Level Changes

The soil level within the area of the root spread of a tree must not be raised or lowered without expert advice or the agreement of the Local Planning Authority. Even small changes of ground level can cause serious damage to trunks of trees and roots by altering water levels and oxygen availability.

Tree Pruning and Felling

Any removal or pruning of specified trees to be retained must be agreed with our Planning Department beforehand. Where work is necessary for building operations, this should be carried out in advance of other operations, under expert supervision by suitably qualified contractors.

All works must comply with the relevant recommendations BS 3998:1989 (Tree Work).

Protective Fencing

A typical fencing specification for the protection trees on development sites is as follows:

Protection Of Trees Fencing



Town and Country Planning Act 1990

Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999

Town and Country Planning (Tree and Conservation Area) Regulations 1975 (as amended)

Planing Guidance

Wyre Forest District Local Plan (Adopted May 1996)

Revised Deposit Wyre Forest District Council Local Plan (April 2002)

Tree Preservation Orders ‘A Guide to the Law and Good Practice’ (DETR)

British Standards

BS 5837 Guide for Trees in Relation to Construction 1991

BS 3998 Recommendations for Tree Work 1989

BS 4428 Code of Practice for General Landscape Operations (excluding Hard Surfaces) 1989

BS 3936 Nursery Stock Specifications