Trees and hedges play a vital role on our estates. Not only do they provide character and beauty within our towns and villages, but they also give us oxygen, act as noise barriers and support much of our wildlife.
There are special laws and regulations to protect trees. If you have a tree in your garden, intend to work on a tree, or if you want to try to stop someone else cutting down a tree, you need to know what to do to ensure you don't fall foul of the law.
Which trees are protected?
Not all trees are protected, and no particular species or size of tree is protected. To be protected, a tree must meet one or more of these three conditions:
- A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) has been made at some time to cover that tree
- the tree is within a conservation area, or
- A planning condition has been made at some time to cover that tree.
What is a TPO?
It is an order made by us which makes it an offence to cut down, lop, top, prune, uproot or wilfully damage or destroy a tree without our written consent.
You can find out if a tree has a Tree Presevation Order by using the our online maps.
How do I get a tree protected?
We are always interested to hear of trees which might be suitable for protection, but normally a tree will not be protected unless it is under threat of some sort, and is worthy of an order by being of some particular amenity value.
I have a problem with some of my neighbour's trees. What can I do?
If trees overhang a boundary, they can cause problems. If you are on the receiving end you are usually entitled to remove the overhang, as long as it does not damage the rest of the tree or compromise its health and stability.
Roots are harder to see but the law is the same. Oddly enough, if the cut material has any value (for example fruit, timber or firewood) you have to offer it to the owner to avoid being charged with theft.
Obviously, this has the makings of a neighbour dispute, so an amicable agreement is by far the best way to approach this. We recommend that you speak to your neighbour before you remove any of the tree and make sure they know you are going to do the work. It will almost always be easier if you can co-operate with them.
If you intend to carry out anything more than minor works then should consider employing a competent person to do the work for you. Don't risk killing the tree and facing a claim for compensation. Get the contractor to write down, preferably on headed paper, a clear description of exactly what they are going to do and what its effect will be. This is especially important if you think the neighbour might accuse you of deliberately trying to damage the tree or hedge - or kill it. If you can show that you used a qualified professional this will be a good defence against such accusations.
Before starting any tree work, please ensure that the tree is not protected by a TPO or by conservation area regulations. This is your responsibility, regardless of who owns the tree or even if you don't know who owns it. If the tree is protected you must contact your local council.
The effect of roots on buildings is an extremely complex one, potentially disastrous, and well beyond this website section to explain. If you think your buildings are being affected by roots from your trees or a neighbours' then you should definitely contact us for advice.
Please be aware, that just because a tree is close to a building it doesn't mean it needs to be removed. In some cases, removing a tree can cause more trouble than leaving it in place. It is essential to get advice before taking any such action.
What are the rules about high hedges?
A good hedge has many benefits as a garden boundary. A hedge is a useful weather and dust filter, is inexpensive to create and long-lasting, can encourage wildlife and can be a feature of beauty and interest in its own right. It also offers privacy and security. But problems can occur if a hedge is allowed to grow unchecked.