Council approved tree surgeon?

Council approved tree surgeon. What does it mean?

Its a term we see a lot along with “National Trust approved” “Wildlife Trust approved” even “British Waterways approved” (im guessing they mean the canal and river trust, British waterways has not existed since 2012).

The trouble is stating you are “approved by X” just implies the tree surgeon (may) have done some work for X at some point. It may be the case they met the criteria to start the work, or were the cheapest, but they work could have been sub standard. Companies and trusts do not maintain a public list of contractors they “approve”. It would open up a can of legal worm unless the relevant trust fully vetted companies, something likely to take 2 days or longer and requires an expertise in arboriculture. Quite simply it’s beyond the scope, ability and financial constraints of such trusts to “approve” any contractor.

Councils do produce a list of tree surgeons which they send out to residents on request and you would think there is some vetting process behind the list. Unfortunately you would wrong, there is no vetting process and the list implies no standard of work or meeting any criteria. It is just a list of local tree surgeons the council is aware of and they are not allowed to recommend anyone (or any number of) companies. Thats not to say the companies on the council lists are bad guys, in fact we are on a few local council lists, but we don’t try and mislead people by stating we are a “Council approved tree surgeon”. We are not, neither is anyone else.

I guess its important to treat the council provided list like any list or company directory. Contact the companies on there and get a few quotes. Make sure they know what they are doing and ask for proof of insurance. You can also check out our article about avoiding cowboys.

Sycamore Removal - lowering off some of the stem

Tree removal – lowering off using rigging techniques is an essential part of being a tree surgeon

In August last year we were contacted by a lady in Bilston who needed 2 lower branches taking off a large ash tree which covered most of her garden and overhung her house. It was a small and simple job for us, involving some technical rigging. The whole job took about 90 minutes, from start to finish including tidying up. Unfortunately for the client she had gone down the council list calling each one until she got to us, we were the twelfth on the list, so she was pretty fed up by the time she had reached R.A.W Tree Care. All and sundry had been round before us coming out with lines such as:

  • she needed to remove all her plants from the garden
  • she needed to remove all the fence panels
  • She was told “We can do it off step ladders”. To which she replied “If you could do it off step ladders I’d do it myself!”
  • and one admitted “Its too big for me”
  • and various other excuses about why they were unable (unfit) to carry out the work

She was pleasantly surprised when we turned up and told her the plants and fences could stay Then we told her exactly how we would remove the limbs safely by lowering them down to the ground. Then can the price and she was happy about how cheaply we could do it.

Things to check your tree surgeon has

We recently found out that not everyone on the “council approved list” is even fully qualified. Its important to check your tree surgeon has all of the following, and ask for proof.

  • NPTC certificates
    • CS30 & CS31 – relates to the safe use of chainsaws on the ground. Does not permit aerial  use of a chainsaw. This is the absolute minimum for a tree surgeon and a legal requirement for anyone working “for profit or gain”. This could include someone doing working without charge for the firewood
    • CS38 – This is all about climbing a tree safely using ropes and a harness. It also covers aerial rescue of a colleague. This is all about climbing and does not cover aerial  use of a chainsaw
    • CS39 – This covers the safe use of a chainsaw from a rope and harness. Its so dangerous it has its own course. Anyone and everyone climbing a tree using a chainsaw must have this. Ground staff do not need it, but at least one ground staff should have CS38 to provide aerial rescue cover.
    • CS41 – Covers pruning of a tree. Its not a legal requirement but sets out industry guidelines for correct pruning. An alternative would be a level 3 or higher qualification in arboriculture.
  • Insurance – There a few areas of cover offered by insurance companies. Make sure the policy covers tree surgery and is not restricted to landscaping
    • Public liability – £5 million or more is generally accepted as a minimum. This covers any damage done to property or 3rd parties by the tree surgeon
    • Employers liability – required by law by any organisation employing people either as paid employees or volunteers. Covers, amongst other things injury to employees
    • Professional indemnity – Usually for consultants or companies giving advice. It protects against damage arising from problems with the advice given.
    • Plant insurance – not an important one from a clients perspective. This one covers theft (and some breakages) of tools and equipment
  • Reviews & testimonials
    • Treat testimonials on a company’s own website with caution. Its far too easy to make up false testimonials.

We hold all of the above and we are more than happy to provide copies of documents.