Oxfordshire County Council logo

Common tree questions

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

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?

The following list is not exhaustive and multiple options may be applicable. If the tree:

  • is one of a number of trees to be felled on one area of land, 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 – notify the district council
  • is on a rented property - permission from the landlord is required.
  • is protected by a legal covenant - permission from the person(s) benefiting from the covenant.
  • is within a property, which is part of 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 undertake any works to 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.

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 contact your district council tree officer

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 above 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 the causes of the damage, a nearby tree may be one consideration. Investigations are critical to determining, 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.