ESCC survey of trees for safety defects

Anthony Becvar, Tree Health Officer, Communities, Economy & Transport, East Sussex Highways has asked Friends of Lewes to publicise this information:

The ESCC is currently undertaking a network survey of all the Unclassified roads in the county. You may therefore notice some spray painted dots on trees in you parish, the colour of the dots do not denote anything different, it simply depends on what colour is in stock.

The dots signify that a safety defect has been spotted and that remedial works have been recommended for the tree. This maybe that the entire tree requires felling, having dead wood removed or could be simply to monitor the tree further.

Both private and ESCC trees are being surveyed. If a private tree is marked, we will notify the land owner and make them aware of the works that are necessary on the marked tree(s), however, we will also suggest that they have the rest of their trees adjacent to the highway privately assessed for other issues.

If the trees are owned by ESCC they will be entered into a works programme. We cannot specify what works are required on individual trees as to do so would take up a lot of time, so please pass on the information above if anyone asks about tree marking or felling within your area. If the owner of the tree contacts your parish council instead of us directly, please inform them that they will be written to by ESCC with instructions, and that until they receive a letter, there may not be the information available to pass to them.

The survey results are sent in monthly, so information on trees surveyed and marked may not yet be on our database at the time of the enquiry.

We will aim to carry out works within the time frame given by the surveyor, which may include traffic management such as traffic lights or possibly road closures. We will always aim to minimise disruption to road users where we can do so safely and efficiently.

Trees that are felled will only be felled if a high risk is associated with the fault detected, the risk can be increased by the level of occupancy of the road. Trees will not be felled if they are healthy or showing no significant faults, we will always leave what we can and carry out other remedial works such as thinning or reducing if it prolongs the tree’s life in a cost effective way. However, we may have to remove healthy trees if leaving them increases a risk of them being subject to windthrow/exposure. This does happen, especially with groups of ash which are generally shallow rooted and tend to grow very tall very quickly due to density.

We will be aiming to survey sections of the network annually, i.e. urban trees, A roads, B roads, C roads and U roads to ensure that they are resurveyed a minimum of every five years.