Tree Surveys in the East of England

Local planning authorities will only consider granting planning permission on a site with trees present once they’ve seen evidence of a completed arboricultural assessment. Our tree surveys and reports are crucial for any planning project involving trees in the East of England region.

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East of England Arboriculture

The East of England is a regional area that contains Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. Towns and cities within these counties with the highest populations include Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich, Luton, Norwich, Peterborough and Watford.

Outside of woodland areas alone, the East of England currently has around 13.6 million trees. Local councils across the region have also been successful in efforts to increase the number of woodland areas, with an additional 26,000 hectares of trees planted between 1980 and 1998. A region full of National Trust parks and expansive forests, popular attractions in the East of England include Anglesey Abbey, Blickling Estate, Dunstable Downs, Felbrigg Hall, Hatfield Forest, Sheringham Park, Wicken Fen and Wimpole Estate.

Woodland areas above 0.1 hectares account for 7.3% of the land area in the region. A clear pledge to retain existing trees while increasing the number of trees in the East of England suggests that the local authorities would only allow for trees to be relocated or removed if it was entirely necessary to do so.

Utilisation of conservation areas and tree preservation orders (TPOs) help with protecting certain trees in the region. However, as trees can act as an obstacle during any planning project, it would be advisable to arrange a tree survey with a trusted arboriculturist. That way, you and your design team can avoid any claims of harming protected trees, contribute to enhancing the quality of the environment, and bolster your application for planning permission.

Tree Canopy Cover in the East of England

Although specific regions can possess a larger or smaller tree canopy cover, each county may account for more trees than others. Fortunately, every county has city, borough, district, town or county councils for ensuring that policies around planning and the environment are followed accordingly.

For more information on the presence of trees in the East of England, we have given a brief overview by county below:


6.2% of Bedfordshire county is wooded, and several initiatives from local authorities have looked to enhance the number of trees. Examples of the initiatives in the county include a pledge to plant 10,000 trees in an attempt to maintain the same number of trees following a large number lost to disease during the winter, and a project that enables businesses, community organisations, residents and schools to claim and plant one of 5,000 new trees.

Trees in Bedfordshire are protected by:

  • Ampthill Town Council
  • Arlesey Town Council
  • Bedford Borough Council
  • Biggleswade Town Council
  • Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Luton Borough Council


According to data from Cambridge City Council, 335,884 trees and shrubs above 1.2 metres tall were recorded in 2018 in the city alone. Despite Cambridgeshire possessing a 17% tree canopy cover – 1% higher than the national average tree canopy cover of 16% – local authorities are aiming to reach a figure of 19% through planting new trees across the county. Cambridgeshire Tree Planting Community lead the way in generating more wooded areas in the county, planting 1,350 trees in 2020 and promising to continue planting trees at the start of 2022 as part of Cambridge’s growing urban forest.

Trees in Cambridgeshire are protected by:

  • Cambridge City Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Fenland District Council
  • East Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Huntingdonshire District Council
  • South Cambridgeshire District Council


Although there are positives to take from tree canopy cover in Essex increasing by 9.4% in 2010, the situation is far more concerning, with 163 hectares lost between 2001 and 2020. Of all pledges to plant more trees in the county, the Essex Forest Initiative has been the most impactful, with Essex County Council stating in 2019 that they would plant 375,000 trees over the following five years.

Trees in Essex protected by:

  • Basildon Council
  • Braintree District Council
  • Brentwood Borough Council
  • Castle Point Borough Council
  • Chelmsford City Council
  • Colchester Borough Council
  • Epping Forest District Council
  • Essex County Council
  • Harlow Council
  • Maldon District Council
  • Rochford District Council
  • Tendring District Council
  • Uttlesford District Council


Between 2001 and 2012, the county of Hertfordshire increased tree canopy cover by 377 hectares before losing 6.81 hectares in 2020. With a fluctuation of trees in the county, local authorities have stepped up efforts to add new trees, including a Woodland and Tree Strategy that involves planting 1.8 million trees by the year 2030.

Trees in Hertfordshire are protected by:

  • Broxbourne Borough Council
  • Dacorum Borough Council
  • East Hertfordshire District Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Hertsmere Borough Council
  • North Hertfordshire District Council
  • St Albans City and District Council
  • Stevenage Borough Council
  • Three Rivers District Council
  • Watford Borough Council
  • Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council


Currently holding an impressive 26% of tree canopy cover across the county, Norfolk has a wide range of wooded areas. Even so, local councils aim to reach an ambitious 30% – only 6% short of the predicted maximum amount possible. A key example of this is Norfolk County Council’s ‘1 Million Trees for Norfolk‘ campaign, which aims to plant a million new trees over a five-year period.

Trees in Norfolk are protected by:

  • Breckland District Council
  • Broadland District Council
  • Great Yarmouth Borough Council
  • King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • North Norfolk District Council
  • Norwich City Council
  • South Norfolk District Council


In a study conducted by the Woodland Trust, it was suggested that half of all trees in Sussex have been lost since the year 1850. With concerns that the decline would continue, masses of funding has gone into counteracting the concerning deterioration of wooded areas. For instance, the Environment Agency pledged to plant 1,000 trees in Suffolk, planting 600 in 2021 and reaching the 1,000 figure in 2022.

Trees in Suffolk are protected by:

  • Babergh District Council
  • East Suffolk Council
  • Ipswich Borough Council
  • Mid Suffolk District Council
  • Suffolk County Council
  • West Suffolk Council

BS5837 Tree Assessments

Arboricultural assessments can be utilised for a number of purposes, such as an arboricultural impact assessment, arboricultural method statement or tree condition survey, but the typical baseline assessment is known as a BS5837 tree survey. When an arboricultural surveyor visits development sites to undertake this form of assessment, they will inspect every tree before using observations of quality and value to brand them with a predetermined grading. The grading will then be used to determine the most suitable course of action, whether it is to retain the tree, relocate it elsewhere inside or outside of the site, or destroy it completely.

In any situation, the priority of a BS 5837 tree survey will be to retain and protect trees that are healthy and valuable. However, if the retained trees aren’t worth keeping, don’t possess any historical value or act as a direct obstruction to the development in a way that cannot be compromised, the arboriculturist will be left with no choice but to recommend relocating or destroying the trees. For relocated trees, a more suitable location on or off the site will be found, and if a tree is destroyed, they will compensate for the loss by planting a new tree of the same value.

Including all details of the arboricultural assessment, evidence in the form of graphs and pictures, and recommendations for each tree on the site, the arboriculturist will compile the necessary information into a tree survey report. Once the tree survey has been conducted, the arboricultural consultant will assemble the tree report, and it can then be passed on to the local planning authority, giving them all they need to grant a planning condition on the site. Alternatively, if the proposed development requires further tree surveys before you can guarantee planning applications, such as arboricultural method statements or a ground level British standard inspection on individual trees for safety reasons, we can also act as an expert witness on these additional assessments.

Consultant Arboriculturists

The planning department of your local council recognises tree reports as a trustworthy and impactful overview of trees on a site, and they rely on information from these documents enough to use them as the basis for their decisions when it comes to granting or denying a planning condition. As such, arranging a tree survey with a licensed arboriculturist is vital for any developers that are planning a project where trees are present on their site, especially if it means ensuring they aren’t under existing tree preservation orders (TPOs) or situated within conservations areas.

Qualified to bachelor’s or master’s degree level, experienced and capable of undertaking expert tree surveys in the East of England and all other sections of the country, our arboricultural consultants are ideal for overseeing an assessment and contributing heavily to your application for planning consent. If you need a tree survey for planning purposes or to gauge safety risks caused by all the trees on your development site, a tree surveyor from our team can help.

You also have no obligation to go ahead with us. Simply speak to our team by filling out our quick quote form or calling us directly, and we will be able to issue you with a free quote. If you decide to choose us for tree survey services, we can then book a desirable date and time. One of our team will then visit your site to conduct the tree survey, and you will receive your tree report within a few days ready to pass on to your local planning authority as part of your planning application.