Common tree questions

How to deal with damaged or cut down trees; felling, cutting, pruning advice; and conifer hedges

See the table below to help point you to the appropriate organisation for a range of circumstances.

Tree felling or pruning in questionable circumstances

Location of tree Contact
Trees in towns, villages or private gardens Contact your District Council's Tree Officer.
Trees in woodlands Contact the Forestry Commission
Hedges in open countryside. Contact your District Council's Tree Officer.

Trees being damaged by construction work, etc

Issue Contact
General Contact your District Council's Tree Officer.
Trees on construction sites Contact your District Council's Tree Officer.
Trees on county council construction sites Contact Principal Planning Officer
If trees are rendered dangerous by works Contact the appropriate person (above) and the Health and Safety Executive

There are a number of different organisations who deal with tree issues, and unfortunately no central point of contact. The list of common tree issues and frequently asked questions point you to the appropriate organisation for a range of circumstances.

Felling, cutting or pruning a tree

Advice about permission for pruning trees and protected trees.

UK legislation affords trees, vegetation and wildlife protection in certain circumstances. Some legislation is listed below:

Do I need permission?

Yes, most likely, if the tree:

  • is one of a number of trees to be felled in the same calendar quarter and the total volume of timber exceeds two cubic metres - a felling licence may be required from the Forestry Commission.
  • is covered by a Tree Preservation Order - permission from the District Council
  • is within a designated Conservation Area - permission from the District Council
  • is on a rented property - permission from the landlord
  • is protected by a legal covenant - permission from the person(s) benefiting from the covenant
  • is within a property, which is part of a relatively new development (up to five years), and may be covered by conditions on the original planning permission.

There are exemptions where permission may not be required but contact your District Council Tree Officer for advice and guidance.

Pruning a protected tree

How to request permission

Applications to fell, cut or prune a protected tree must be made in writing to the District Council explaining which tree will be affected, what work you propose to do and why. There may be a special application form to complete. Contact your District Council Tree Officer, for advice.

Any permission from your district council will state that the work must be carried out in accordance with British Standard 3998.

Builders felling or pruning trees

On a nearby building site, the builders are felling / pruning trees, is this permitted?

The development should have planning permission and the issue of trees, their retention, felling, pruning, and replacement, are part of the planning process.

Planning permission may override other legal protection of trees, where this is essential to carry out the proposed development. To check contact the development control planner for the area, at your district council or your district council tree officer,

For advice and guidance

Problem with a neighbour's tree

My neighbours are cutting down/pruning a tree in their garden, do they have/need permission?

You can find out if written permission would be required and if they have it in the circumstances set out in "Cutting or Pruning Trees".  

Contact your district council tree officer, to check or to report possible illegal work.

Damage caused by trees

When you suspect a tree is damaging your property.

Just because a tree is nearby, it should not be assumed that it is the cause of damage to your property.

Trees can cause both direct and indirect (subsidence) damage to built structures. Regardless of the type of damage, it is important to determine the extent of the damage and then factual scientific investigations should be undertaken to determine the cause. With subsidence, there are many factors that need to be investigated to determine causes of the damage, a nearby tree may be one consideration. Investigations are critical to determine, on the balance of probability, what is influencing building movement. By undertaking appropriate investigations a suitable long-term solution can be identified based on objective findings.

What should I do?

  • Obtain professional advice as soon as you notice any damage to a structure.
  • As a general rule, you should contact your building insurer and /or your mortgage provider as soon as you notice a structural problem with your home.
  • The insurers will normally investigate the matter, its probable cause and will deal with any legal issues arising.
  • If you are a tenant, you should advise your landlord immediately if you notice or suspect there is a problem.
  • If you are not insured, it is your responsibility to commission investigations; a qualified structural surveyor; a solicitor; and a competent arboriculturist to deal with your claim.

Conifer hedges

The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, Section 8, provides remedies for some problems with conifer hedges.

The law will be enforced by your District Council and you should contact them for advice

You can access Government advice - High hedges: complaining to the council - if you need further information.

Contact your local Tree Officer

How to contact your local district council's Tree Officer or Forestry Team