Emergency tree works

Where a PCC is seeking to undertake emergency works to one or more trees in a churchyard, the two-part procedure below should be followed.

Interim faculty

Dealing with a health and safety threat is an absolute priority, but it does not give free rein to go ahead with tree surgery without necessary consent. Felling a safe tree, or a tree which would be safe if a fallen branch were removed or other remedial work were to be undertaken, without the necessary consent, may be unlawful.

An interim faculty allows works normally requiring a faculty to be undertaken without waiting for the full procedures of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules to be applied. An interim faculty is usually only granted where there is insufficient time available for those processes to be followed.

Dire emergency

The following is based on the Church of England guidance on Works to Trees in Churchyards (2021), which is applicable to managing emergency works in the Diocese of Lichfield.

A tree may suddenly pose an immediate and substantial risk of harm to people or property – for example after a storm – which may mean that there is not time to go through the formal permission process (above) before dealing with the threat.

Whenever possible, the Archdeacon and, where relevant, the Local Planning Authority (e.g. for legally-protected trees) should be contacted before any work is done.

Where there is concern about hazards from significant trees, the balance of risks and benefits should be assessed and various mitigation strategies considered.

The advice below should be followed only in a dire emergency, when authorisation cannot be obtained in advance:

  1. From a safe distance, compile evidence (photographs) of the risk of harm posed by the tree, before any work is done.
  2. Do whatever is judged to be the minimum necessary to make the tree and its immediate setting safe. Often the best answer is to fence off the area.
  3. Do not clear away on-the-spot evidence of the risk of harm posed by the tree (or failure, if after an event), such as rotten parts of the tree, but – if appropriate – leave this safely on site until the relevant people have had a chance to examine the material.
  4. Following contact, the Archdeacon may direct that a confirmatory faculty is needed. Notify the Local Planning Authority and apply for retrospective permission, if required.

In such circumstances, please follow this procedure and contact your Archdeacon direct.

Please note: It is not possible for an Archdeacon to issue emergency List B permission, or to issue retrospective List B permission for works undertaken (a confirmatory faculty would need to be sought).

Page last updated: Thursday 26th October 2023 5:44 PM
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