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Your rights and responsibilities with regards to trees

Your Common Law Rights

You have a Common Law right to remove the nuisance associated with trees encroaching onto your property. The following advice is given if you wish to exercise your Common Law right with respect to encroaching trees:

  • You can only consider removing those parts of the tree from the point where they cross the boundary of your property. You have no legal right to cut or remove any part of a tree that does not overhang your property;
  • You are strongly advised to consult a professional tree surgeon for guidance on how best to prune back encroaching trees, unless the works are such that you could do the works with hand secateurs or similar;
  • Before you consider doing any works to a tree/trees you should find out who owns them and if they are protected by a Tree Preservation Order or are within a Conservation Area. If the trees are protected, you will need to gain consent by making an application/give notice to the council.

You are advised to discuss with your neighbour your intention to prune encroaching branches.

Legally, you do not own the encroaching branches and you should first offer them to your neighbour and if your neighbour does not want the cuttings you should make appropriate arrangements to dispose of them yourself.

If the encroachment relates to a council owned tree, any cuttings must be disposed of appropriately; the council does not require nor expect to have these returned.

Tree Preservation Orders and trees in Conservation Areas

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) and protection of trees in a Conservation Area are enforced by the Council’s Tree Team.

Before you consider undertaking any works to a tree/trees you should find out if they are protected by a Tree Preservation Order or are within a Conservation Area:

If the trees are protected, you will need to gain consent by making an application/give notice to do so:

If you want to protect a tree which does not already have a TPO on it or is on a Conservation area, you can learn more and find a link to our online form on our protected trees page:

High hedges

A high hedge is defined in the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 as:

'A barrier to light or access and is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees growing to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level'.

Individual trees and shrubs are not covered by this legislation.

A complaint can be brought under the Act by the owner or occupier of the property affected by the hedge. The property must be residential and the hedge must detract from the reasonable enjoyment of your home and garden.

Trees on development sites

Some trees on development sites are also protected by specific conditions on planning permissions to ensure their protection during development.

To find out if your property and trees are located within a Conservation Area, to check if trees on a development site are protected by planning conditions, and to view details of existing planning permissions please visit our planning page.

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