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You might have to have other work, such as pruning, felling, pollarding or tree surgery, carried out on your oak trees in OPM-affected areas.

Any work on trees can be hazardous, but working on OPM-infested oak trees carries the additional risks of:

  • the people doing the work being affected by the caterpillars’ irritating hairs
  • spreading the pest further afield in the oak material, such as lopped branches, which is removed from the site.

However, before you start such work you should find out whether the trees concerned are covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). To do this, contact your local council’s tree officers, who are often based in the development control or planning department. If a TPO is in place, you will need to discuss the planned work with them to see whether prior permission is needed.

There might also be restrictions in place if the tree is in a Conservation Area. If it is, you should again seek advice from your council.

Because of the additional hazards which OPM presents, this work should only be done by reputable tree surgeons or forestry workers. They must be familiar with the measures required or recommended to prevent the accidental spread of pests in the oak material removed. These are set out in our Good practice guide for handling oak material in areas affected by OPM.

They should also be familiar with the precautions needed to protect their own health and safety (see Section 8: Occupational health).

If OPM nests or caterpillars are found on a tree after arboricultural work on it has begun, the work should be stopped as soon as the tree has been made safe. The area should be cordoned off and signed to warn others that OPM is present. The finding must be reported to us via TreeAlert. Work should not resume until the nests and caterpillars (larvae) have been appropriately removed and destroyed.

Next – Good practice guide for handling oak material in OPM areas

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