Tree Roots and Planning Permission – How an Airspade Investigation Can Help

Tree surveys are a fundamental part of the planning application process, where trees are present on or near a site, providing insights into the impact of construction projects. However, when it comes to understanding the intricacies of a tree's root system and the potential impacts of building works, confirmation of informed assumptions can be crucial. This is where Air Spade investigations can help.

What is an Air Spade?

The Air Spade is a hand held lance connected to a high pressure compressor. It emits a continuous jet of compressed air. This jet excavates soil around tree roots with minimal damage. It enables excavation around tree roots without having a significant impact on the trees. Traditional excavation methods, using excavators and spades are likely to cause significant and potentially fatal damage to tree root systems.

How Air Spade Investigations can Inform the Planning Process

Through trial excavations, the Air Spade can confirm the presence or absence of roots within Root Protection Areas (RPAs). This information can better inform the design stage of a planning application and the assessment of the likely impact and mitigation of a proposed design on adjacent trees when a structure is proposed to be installed within the RPAs.

In a recent project involving a planning application for an extension to a residential property within the RPA of a protected tree, our lead consultant, Mike, undertook an Air Spade investigation to corroborate the findings of his BS5837 survey. Working hand-in-hand with the architect and client, Mike's meticulous approach aimed to ensure that the proposed building works wouldn't adversely affect the health and stability of the adjacent trees. The excavation revealed limited minor roots in the area of the proposed building footprint, thus confirming that the impact of the proposed development on the adjacent tree, would be very limited. This information was fed into the arboricultural method statement, allowing the client to submit the application unchanged.

Collaboration with Architect and Client

Where a development may influence or be influenced by trees a collaborative approach between all stakeholders is essential to achieve the objectives. Mike seamlessly integrated the Air Spade investigation into the broader planning application process, working closely with both the architect and the client. This collaborative effort exemplifies the benefits of interdisciplinary teamwork in achieving a sustainable and well-balanced project outcome.

Mike's Expertise in Action

As the lead consultant, Mike's expertise played a crucial role in the success of the project. His meticulous approach and in-depth understanding of both arboriculture and trees within the planning processes ensured that the outcome for the end client was positive. Mike's ability to translate complex technical findings into actionable recommendations was instrumental in guiding the project to be successfully integrated with the existing trees.

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