Frequently Asked Questions

Some common questions are answered below, if you require more information please do contact us
What types of tree protection are there?
Trees can be protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPO), that are made on specific trees or groups of trees, and Conservation Areas (CA) which affords a level of protection to all but the very smallest trees within a geographical area. In addition, planning conditions are often used by local planning authorities when approving planning applications to make specific requirements regarding the protection or retention of trees that may be affected by construction or development works. In some cases, the removal of trees may be controlled by Felling Licences which are administered by the Forestry Commission or restrictions may apply if the tree or trees are within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or where the land on which they grow is subject to a Restrictive Covenant relating to trees.

How do I know if my trees are protected?
Your local council are responsible for making Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) and controlling works to trees that are located within a Conservation Area (CA). They also sometimes control works to trees by attaching planning conditions when giving consent to applications to carry out development or building works. You should contact their Planning Department to determine whether there are any form of protection exists and whether permission will be required before carrying out most forms of tree work.
How can I get a Tree Preservation Order made on a tree that I think is at risk of being felled or damaged?
Your local council are responsible for making Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). You should contact your local authority and speak to the tree officer or someone in the planning department who should determine whether the making of a TPO is appropriate.
My neighbours are unhappy that a tree growing in my garden overhangs their property and say that they have the right to cut it back. Is this correct?
Your local council are responsible for making Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). You should contact your local authority and speak to the tree officer or someone in the planning department who should determine whether the making of a TPO is appropriate.
Will hammering a nail into a tree will kill or harm the tree?
Hammering anything into a tree is intrusive and will cause harm, a tree is a living organism and an injury such as this is damaging. The outer bark layer on a tree stem protects against disease and decay, anything that breaches it can allow the entry of harmful organisms. The significance of any harm will depend on a number of factors such as the extent of the injury, the species and age of the tree and its overall condition. For example, a single nail is unlikely to cause great harm to an established tree that has natural durability such as oak or sweet chestnut but it could be more harmful to a tree with lower durability such as birch or poplar.
Branches or roots from my neighbour’s tree are growing over my boundary. What can I do?
Under ‘common law’, you may be able to prune branches and roots which grow over your boundary. However, you also have a legal duty to take ‘reasonable care’ whilst undertaking any works and you may be liable if you damage the tree or cause it to become unstable. It is therefore unwise to undertake works without first consulting a qualified arboriculturist (tree expert). You should also check with the Council prior to undertaking any works to make sure that the trees are not protected.
I would like to carry out work to trees on my property, do I need permission?
If your trees are protected by a Tree Preservation Order, or you are within a Conservation Area, or the trees are protected by a condition attached to a planning permission, then you will need consent for the works.
How can I find out if the trees within my ownership are protected?
You can check to see if a property or area of land has a Tree Preservation Order on it, or if it is located within a Conservation Area, by looking at the council website or by contracting the local council (usually the planning department). If your tree is protected then you will need to apply to the Council. Further information is available on the Tree Preservation Orders page.
Are there any times of year when tree works should not be undertaken?

Ideally tree works should not be undertaken during the spring time period, when the ‘sap is rising’ and during the autumn, when the tree is drawing nutrients back into itself from the leaves as they go brown.

During the spring time the tree is beginning to work its sap around its system to enable the leaves to flush (come out) and photosynthesis to begin once again. If works are undertaken in the spring then the tree will therefore be very vulnerable to pest and disease attack. If works are carried out in the autumn then the tree will not be able to get all the nutrients that it needs for the next spring and the tree will be put under unnecessary stress, increasing the likelihood of disease.

There are also other constraints to take into account when considering when to undertake work to your tree(s). Nesting birds are protected by law and a careful check should be made of the tree to ascertain if any nests are present. If nests are found work should be postponed until the nest is vacated (nesting period usually March – September) Bats also roost in trees and are protected by law. Great care should therefore be taken to ensure that they are not disturbed or harmed.

What should I do to make sure that Bats are not affected?

All British Bat species are protected by law and many bats roost in trees; although some bat species have adapted to living in buildings, trees still remain important throughout the year for most of our 16 species. Suitable trees are becoming fewer and further between as older and hollow trees, which provide holes to roost in and a feast of insect life (and even younger trees with suitable cavities) are removed.

Please remember to check with your arborist that they have checked the tree(s) for bats or roosts before work commences. If bats (or roosts) are thought to be present before, or during, work then works should be stopped and advice sort from Natural England or a competent ecologist to ensure you will be working within the law.

The presence of bats does not necessarily mean that tree work cannot proceed, but it does mean that the above procedures must be followed in order to ensure you are working within the law and minimise the risk of bats being killed or injured.

I have a tree which is outside my boundary and not under my control - whose responsibility is it?
The law is very clear with regard to a tree owners ‘duty of care’. Legally, the owners of the land are responsible for trees growing on their land.

If the tree is growing on Council owned or managed land then you should contact your local Council.

I am worried that my neighbour’s tree is dangerous. What should I do?
If a tree growing on someone else’s land causes injury to someone or damage to property then the owner may be liable. If you think your neighbour’s tree might be dangerous then you should contact an arboricultural consultant for further advice. It is always best to settle a dispute about trees amicably and it is recommended that you try to resolve the matter by talking to your neighbours first. If the tree is identified as an immediate danger, and your neighbour has refused to address the problem, then the Council may intervene if formally requested to do so.
Should Ivy be removed from trees?

For many years, gardeners and arborists alike would, as a matter of common tree maintenance, clear ivy from trees in order to remove the competition for light, water and nutrients, as well as the potential threat of the ivy totally smothering the tree.

However, in the light of increasing knowledge and research into the relationship between the plant and its host, it is now not considered an instant threat to the tree, and is not necessary to remove it on a regular basis.

In certain circumstances (tree inspection, formal areas etc.) it is necessary to clear trees of ivy in order to carry out a detailed inspection of the condition of the tree, or to keep the appearance of the tree ‘tidy’.

However, in many instances where trees are in a less strictly managed area, especially where wildlife conservation is the main aim, ivy does not need to be removed.

Ivy is an attractive habitat for insects and invertebrates and consequently bird and animal life can benefit as a result of an increase in available food source. Bats, which are rare and protected by law regularly roost amongst ivy, as well as inside small cavities in suitable trees.

It would depend therefore on the main aims of the managers of the land in question as to whether the ivy is removed from the trees or it is left to provide a wildlife benefit.

I do not know who owns a tree, which is causing me concern – who do I contact?

Local Council’s do not hold records of land ownership, and therefore cannot advise on the ownership of trees, you should contact the Land Registry who hold details of land ownership.

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Proprieter: Tom Furlonger

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