Changes to the way DEFA manages its responsibility for protecting trees are on the horizon.
The Tree Protection Act 1993 provides extensive protection to trees – a higher level of protection than anywhere else in the British Isles - and under the current system, applications are required to remove all trees above a certain stem diameter.
This existing legislation has resulted in an average of more than 800 formal applications per year to the Forestry, Amenity and Lands Directorate (FALD) over the last 10 years
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for DEFA said: ‘We have reviewed the way that trees will be protected under the existing legislation. By reviewing the tree register and making changes to the application process, we are re-directing resources towards trees with the highest amenity value.
The publication of a Tree Protection Policy makes our tree protection regulations more open and transparent, and the review has rationalised tree regulations to ensure it better supports our economy and community whilst still protecting our environment.'
A revised process, due to come into effect on 1st January 2018 will see the introduction of a new application form and guidance notes.
By setting out what factors contribute to a tree having an ‘amenity’ value, such as its size and visual prominence, the Tree Protection Policy has enabled the Department to differentiate between applications which require detailed, technical assessments and those only requiring a basic assessment. The Tree Protection Policy is available on the government website.
Arboricultural Officer Andrew Igoea said: ‘Site visits by technical officers are costly for the Department and an inconvenience for the public. If the public provide the right information with their applications we can avoid site visits and time-consuming detailed assessments of small trees in remote or secluded locations, which provide little amenity value to the public.
Focussing on the most significant trees will hopefully speed up the application process, enabling the department to issue licences more quickly and minimise the impact of regulation on the tree owner.
He added: ‘We have provided extensive guidance notes and web links, set out in a way which will help the public find the information they need as quickly as possible.
I would advise anyone thinking of making an application to check out the government’s tree protection web page to ensure they are using the correct form and are providing the correct information, as the Department will also be stricter about what it accepts as a valid application.’
A review of tree protection policy was included in DEFA’s submission to the SAVE initiative, a Government-wide effort to make tax-payers’ money go further.
Visit the updated tree protection web pages here: www.gov.im/treeprotection.
Photo - Andrew Igoea inspects trees.