Highway Tree Clearance and Woodland Thinning

Project: Tree Safety Clearance and Woodland Thinning

Client: Elmbridge Borough Council            Location: Esher Common, Surrey

Practicality Brown recently has completed a tree clearance project alongside the six-lane A3 at Esher Common in Surrey, which involved working whilst the road was live.


The stretch of highway boundary trees spanned nearly a mile along the A3 and included 2 bridge supports and a slip road.  Scots Pine had grown to a height that could potentially have reached the live carriageway had it been windblown and there were signs of some root-heave, which prompted the decision to clear a 30m wide safety strip from the highway boundary. The site is heavily used by local residents and the traffic management within the site was critical to allow safe extraction and loading of timber, whilst keeping the site open for pedestrian use.


Elmbridge Borough Council, who own Esher Common, engaged Practicality Brown to agree and arrange traffic management with Connect Plus, who manage the A3 on behalf of the Department of Transport.  It was not possible to arrange main lane closures, so methodology was agreed to work with a hard shoulder closure in daytime and a nightime onslip closure.


Tree felling was carried out using a timber harvester to process trees outside the highway risk zone and then a combination of a 16” Dymax Tree Shear on an excavator and an experienced climbing team to dismantle trees along the highway boundary. The Dymax Tree Shear could section upright trees at 8m from ground level which effectively reduced the felling risk zone enough to allow daytime working of highway boundary trees. Dangerous trees leaning onto the slip road had to be sectioned by Dymax Tree Shear at night during a road closure.


Over 2000 tonnes of Scots Pine, Sweet Chestnut and Douglas Fir was removed from site and marketing as sawlog, fencing bars and chip wood, the latter being locally used by Fuel Chip Ltd, a sister company of Practicality Brown Ltd, to supply the premium biomass chip market.


The contract also involved thinning 16 hectares of WW2 softwood plantations under a Woodland Management Plan, in accordance with a Forestry Commission EWGS agreement; together with the post-felling tidy up which involved eco piling suitable material and mulching areas including the invasive Rhododendron species.

Practicality Brown has extensive experience of managing this scale and complexity of tree project and this project truly combined both forestry and construction experience to bring it to fruition safely and successfully.


The resultant chip will be recycled as biomass fuel, ensuring the works have a positive environmental impact from usually waste material.  Our experience Operatives completed the work in 8 weeks and the client was happy with our work which has resulted in safer driver conditions on this major trunk route.

The images show the quality of our work, and the state of the ground after our machinery has been work and the care and consideration with which we work.

Photos show the tree coverage before and the clear road from the same view points