While trees are part of the flora and fauna, untrimmed trees can sometimes become a matter of inconvenience for homeowners living in homes adjacent to them. Through this blog post, we aim to learn whether a resident can get help from the council if they wish to cut down a tree. Additionally, we will also explore the rights and responsibilities of residents towards trees, how to manage overgrown trees on public land that have hanging branches on your property and how to convince the council for tree cutting.

Can The Council Help With Tree Cutting?

Yes, the council can help with tree cutting. In fact, council authorities have complete control over trees whether they are on public land or private land. This means that residents can not cut down trees by themselves even if they grow on private land.

The three main situations in which the council usually gets involved in tree cutting include the following:

  • When a dispute needs to be resolved between two neighbours regarding an overgrown tree with branches overhanging each other’s property. Council authorities will arbitrate between the two parties and help them arrive at a mutually agreed decision.
  • When trees on council-owned land become diseased or dangerous for residents, the council will lop, prune or remove them.
  • When the trees on public land are either causing a nuisance or are a source of danger and need to be maintained or removed by the council authorities.

Trees are protected in the UK and some of the trees fall under the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or belong to conservation areas; which makes it illegal to cut them down.

As per UK law, the council office is responsible for maintaining and protecting the trees in their district. It is part of their duties to conduct regular inspections to make sure that residents are not being affected by diseased trees or that the trees are not causing obstruction of the vision of drivers on the adjacent streets.  

If residents wish to prune the branches of a tree, they can do so on their own; without council intervention. The trees, in this case, can belong to private or public land. Branches of trees on public land should only be pruned by residents for good reasons such as if they fall into their house or obscure their view.

However, one should be very careful when it comes to cutting down trees as there can be severe consequences to it. A family in Sheffield Council won an appeal to the city council to provide TPO status to a redwood tree planted by their late grandfather. Now, the tree is protected for conservation and if anyone tries to damage the tree, they can face a fine of £20,000 Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Can I Ask The Council To Cut Trees On Public Land?

You can only request the council to cut down trees on public land if:

  • The trees are a source of danger with their branches obscuring the view of a street
  • The trees are diseased and can cause harm to other plantations in the area (public or private)
  • The trees in public land have overgrown with branches hanging into your property or they can cause potential damage due to overgrown roots  

If there are trees growing on public land but their branches keep falling on your property, you can prune the branches on your own and then dispose of the cuttings. You will not need permission from the council to do this unless the tree is in a conservation area. 

However, if the tree you wish to have cut down is protected under the Tree Preservation Order, you will not be able to have it cut down. The Cambridge city council has a web link through which residents can check whether a tree is protected in Cambridge City Council

How Can I Convince The Council To Cut A Tree On Public Land?

Councils will generally try to maintain and protect a tree unless there is no better option than cutting it down. On the other hand, homeowners would like to have trees that are interfering with their property or causing a nuisance to be cut down at the earliest possible.

Below is a list of certain situations under which it becomes easier to convince council authorities to cut down a tree:

  • a diseased tree is overhanging the property
  • the canopy is covering solar panels on the property which is supposed to generate green energy
  • the root structure of the tree is so invasive that it has spread through drain runs due to which there are blockages or structural damage to the property

On the other side, complaints made by residents as the below-listed ones may not be entertained by councils;

  • branches of the tree overhang the property
  • the tree is causing excessive leaf drops or fallen fruit o private property
  • there is an excess shade or shadow caused by the tree
  • the tree is affecting television reception or blocking light on the property

What Are The Rights And Responsibilities Of Residents Towards Trees?

Residents within a council district are expected to follow the guidelines given by their authorities with regard to the preservation of trees and these guidelines may differ across councils. However, one must make sure that they are following the below advice as a general rule of thumb:

  • Residents can only prune branches of trees that are overhanging on their property but they cannot cut an entire tree.
  • Before undertaking any tree work, residents should find out about the ownership of a tree and discuss or seek permission as the case may be.
  • Trees of neighbours with branches overhanging one’s property should be pruned after mutual discussion with the neighbour and the branches that are cut off should be handed over to the owner.
  • Before pruning trees on public land, residents should find out from the council if they are under a TPO or if the area where they are planted is a Conservation Area.

Conclusion:

The above discussion sheds light on the importance of trees, their protection under TPOs and Conservation Areas and how residents need to be extremely careful when it comes to tree cutting. Since they are not allowed to cut a tree on public or private land, residents must seek the advice of council authorities and follow their advice. However, if there are overhanging branches from a tree growing on council land or your neighbour’s property, there is no harm in pruning the branches. Yet, it is best to discuss the matter prior to undertaking any tree work.

FAQs: Can The Council Help With Tree Cutting?

How do you get the council to cut down a tree in the UK?

You can appeal to the council to cut down a tree if you think that it is causing inconvenience, is diseased or dangerous. However, councils will try their best to preserve a tree as much as possible and will only consider tree cutting if there is no other option.

How much does it cost to cut a tree down in the UK?

Charges for tree felling in the UK can vary from anywhere between £300 to £3,000; depending on the extent of work involved and the number of team members required. Cutting down a medium birch tree with a medium-sized team can cost between £500 to £800; while cutting down a large oak tree with a relatively larger team can cost between £1,000 to £3,000.

How do I ask the council to cut a tree?

You can ask your local council to cut down a tree by calling them or writing an email. However,r the best way is to check if there is an online form on your council’s website and fill it in. you should also add pictures of the tree and the problems it is causing to support your appeal.

Who pays to cut overhanging trees?

If a tree that is planted on your neighbour’s property has overhanging branches in your home or garden, it is your responsibility to cut the branches or prune the tree. Therefore, even if you are not the owner, you will pay to have the branches cut unless you and your neighbour agree to share the cost.

What can I do if my neighbour’s tree is too big?

If your neighbour’s tree is big enough to have overhanging branches on your property, you should consider discussing the problem with them and arrive at a mutually agreed decision. Otherwise, you can simply have the branches cut up to the part where they come into your property and hand them over to your neighbour since they are the owner of the tree.

References:

How To Get Your Local Council to Cut Down Trees // Find Out More From GardeningCosts.co.uk.

Advice needed on how to tackle a council regarding a tree that totally obscures my property

Council trees affecting your property | Tree maintenance and planting | Birmingham City Council

Council trees

Tree works the Council will undertake

Sheffield council gives ‘grandad’s tree’ protected status – BBC News

Your rights and responsibilities with regards to trees – Cambridge City Council

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