BSI standard for trees is "premature" and "could go nowhere"

Unprecedented response to draft standard on tree inspection may lead to its being scrapped, conference told

BSI trees committee chairman Mick Boddy
BSI trees committee chairman Mick Boddy

The draft British Standard on tree inspection could "ultimately go nowhere", according to chairman of the BSI's trees committee Mick Boddy.

Speaking at the annual Arboricultural Association conference last week, Boddy admitted that the scale of comments received on the draft BS 8516 had been unprecedented and could mean it is scrapped altogether.

A total of 300 pages of responses were received through the draft's consultation, which was extended by a month to the end of August.

Many pointed to the work of the National Tree Safety Group, chaired by Forestry Commissioner Sir Harry Studholme, which on 29 May held a conference aimed at reaching an industry standard on tree safety.

"The underlying theme of the consultation is that the publication of the document would be premature while the NTSG's work is ongoing," added Boddy, during the conference at the University of Kent, in Canterbury.

"No decisions have been made, and won't be, until we hear back from the NTSG."

Boddy said the coming months will be a time for all the comments to be reviewed, and he will be meeting with the NTSG in October and again in November.

He added that options for the standard are: publication in a modified form after another consultation; postponement; withdrawal; or reclassification as a ‘draft for development'.

NTSG member and Treework Environmental Practice director Neville Fay said the crucial element of the group was that it brought together a wide variety of stakeholders who would be affected by decisions about trees, risk and public safety, including those in the arboriculture industry, land managers, and risk assessors.

He added the NTSG was now working on two specific projects: research being done by Professor David Ball at Middlesex University into risk from trees; and creating an industry statement that would bring the benefits of trees into the decision-making process, along with guidance for landowners and managers.

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