Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I have a protected tree, what should I do?
You must get our written consent before you carry out any work to a tree that is covered by a Tree Preservation Order. Failure to obtain consent could result in prosecution and a fine of up to £20,000.
The exception to this is where the entire tree or part of the tree is dead, dying or dangerous. In this case, consent is not needed to remove the dead wood or to fell the tree. You will need proof to demonstrate that the tree was dead, dying or dangerous. Ideally the Council Tree officer should be consulted prior to any works occurring in order to verify if the tree or part is dead, dying or dangerous. See more info in our Tree Preservation Order section. Tree Officer : Tel 01495 355 546
A Council owned tree is causing a problem, what should I do?
Fill out the Tree Enquiry Form.This is automatically sent to the Councils Tree Officer who will review the problem and arrange an inspection if necessary.
Please note that work is only usually undertaken for reasons of safety and not issues such as loss of light or satellite reception. See the section entitled ‘What work we will and will not do’.
If a tree is in serious danger of collapsing and causing injury or damage to property then please call the Tree Officer : Tel 01495 355 546.
If the tree is associated with social housing this is now the responsibility of Tai Calon and residents should call 0300 303 1717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My neighbours trees are too tall what should I do?
Trees are not necessarily dangerous just because they're big or tall or because they are situated within falling distance of buildings and roads . Trees in general do not collapse because of their height alone. It is usually because the trees are dead or dying or have a root or basal issue that is liable to pre-dispose the tree to fail. In addition there is no legal requirement about cutting back the height or spread of roots and branches, except for trees growing next to the highway.
Thus there is little that a neighbour can do within law, to reduce the height of a tree in a garden next to their property without the tree owner's permission.
If safety is an issue, then this must be brought to the attention of the tree owner. The owner of a tree has a duty to prune trees or hedges so that they don't cause obstruction or danger to pedestrians and vehicles, this is known in law as the ‘duty of care’ – an individual should take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions, which they can reasonably foresee, would be likely to cause harm. In the case of trees, a tree owner should ensure their trees are in a safe condition by regular inspections and by acquiring professional advice if necessary by a competent person and undertaking any appropriate safety works identified.
We can supply a list of tree consultants and contractors used by the council who can undertake a health and safety inspection of the tree/s and provide a written quotation for any appropriate works. A list of Tree Contractor and Consultants local to the area is provided on these pages for your information or take a look on the Arboriculture Association website which contains details of Arboriculture Association Approved Contractors.
My neighbours trees are blocking out sunlight to our property, what should I do?
There is no legal obligation to a property owner to prune or remove their trees for reasons of light loss to an adjoining / neighbouring property. A 'right to light' is difficult to prove and only refers to buildings and light, not to gardens and sunlight. This should not be confused with the High Hedges Legislation which deals with the 'nuisance' of privately-owned hedges.
Tree roots/overhanging branches/ nuisance from neighbours trees, what can I do?
There is no legal requirement about cutting back the height or spread of roots and branches, except for trees growing next to the highway.
The owner of a tree, does however, have a duty to prune trees or hedges so that they don't cause obstruction or danger to pedestrians and vehicles, this is known in law as the ‘duty of care’ – an individual should take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions, which they can reasonably foresee, would be likely to cause harm. In the case of trees, a tree owner should ensure their trees are in a safe condition by regular inspections and by acquiring professional advice if necessary.
Generally, for a 'legal nuisance' to occur damage must be caused to a third party and he/she must be put to unreasonable inconvenience. This is sometimes known as an ‘actionable nuisance' or a nuisance that gives cause for legal action. An exception to this rule is the 'common law nuisance' of tree roots and branches that cross boundaries but may not necessarily be causing any damage. In these instances, (with the exception of protected trees i.e. trees included in a Tree Preservation Order or situated within a Conservation Area), a neighbour may cut back any overhanging branches or encroaching roots without the tree owner’s consent. The prunings remain the property of the tree owner and should be tactfully offered back to them. They don't have to accept the prunings from you. You may have to dispose of them yourself. While carrying out the pruning, don't cross the boundary line, either in person or with any equipment, as this could be seen as trespass.
Whilst you may have the Common Law right to cut back any trespassing roots, the difficulty being is that you may render the tree unsafe by doing so as it may affect the health and stability of the tree. Whilst this does not prevent you exercising your Common Law right, it would certainly be prudent to advise the tree owner what you are doing as to avoid any possible claims, particularly from third-parties if the tree were to fall as a result of your actions. If it is proven that the roots have caused damage to your property i.e. tree-related subsidence damage, then the tree owner may be liable for the cost of putting the matter right. This type of damage is usually referred to the property owner's insurer for the matter to be taken up by the tree owner's property insurer. If the parties are unable to agree, the matter of liability for the damage will be determined by the Courts.
My neighbours trees are blocking our satellite/television reception, what can I do?
There is no legal obligation for a tree owner to prune or remove their trees for reasons of loss of satellite or television reception experienced by an adjoining or neighbouring property. Whilst a television licence allows you to legally receive television signals, it does not guarantee reception or quality of the broadcast signal.
If you have experienced a sudden loss of television reception or satellite signal, it may be that either your television aerial/satellite dish or 'set top box' is faulty. In these instances please refer to the manufacturer's instructions.
Where tree/s or vegetation on a neighbouring property are blocking satellite signals or television reception, the best solution would be for the property owner to re-position their television aerial or satellite dish away from the obstructing vegetation. You could also consider the use of television aerial /satellite signal reception 'boosters'. Further advice regarding potential solutions can be obtained using the services of either your equipment supplier or contacting a local independent television aerial/satellite engineer.
With reference to protected trees i.e. tree/s included in a Tree Preservation Order and council managed trees, we do not consider loss (or inability) to receive a satellite signal/television reception a valid reason to undertake work to otherwise healthy and sound trees.