Reporting tree issues

Trees are vital components of urban infrastructure and are important for environmental quality, urban sustainability, and quality of life. Urban forests provide many benefits that contribute to human health and improve liveability.

If you think that there might be an issue with a tree we're responsible for, we ask that you send clear evidence outlining your concerns. This normally begins with a description of the problem and its exact location, and is supported with relevant photographs. Providing this information allows priorities to be set and resources to be directed in the right areas.

Before contacting us, please read the guidance below.

Trees overhanging property 

Property owners have a common law right to undertake pruning of another party’s overhanging tree, but only to their boundary line. Reasonable care must be taken not to cause damage or harm to the tree. Pruning also applies to encroaching roots, but we strongly recommend obtaining competent arboricultural advice before attempting to sever roots that might affect the health or stability of a tree. Please note that a person is at risk of committing trespass where the work carried out encroaches onto another person’s land, and they may be at risk of causing criminal damage if the affected tree(s) are harmed.

Trees situated in a conservation area or protected by a tree preservation order can't be cut back to a boundary or pruned in any other way without first giving notice to, or obtaining consent from, us. You're advised to check with our Tree Team whether a tree is protected before undertaking any work. Application forms for work to protected trees can be posted out on request. We don't prune or remove our trees to prevent them overhanging a boundary.

Trees and obstructed views

We'll often prune trees to improve highway sight lines, but we won't remove or reduce the height of healthy trees to improve a view.

Trees and loss of light

Contrary to popular opinion there's no absolute right to light, but it is possible to establish a right to light where it can be demonstrated that a person has had 20 years of uninterrupted enjoyment. However, this area of law is complex, and typically applied to the effects of buildings and other man-made, fixed structures.

Trees are living organisms whose characteristics and condition change seasonally as well as over longer periods of time. Other than legislation relating to the effects of evergreen high hedges (ie Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003), there's no legislation or precedent in case law regarding trees interfering with a right to light. Apart from evergreen high hedges, we won't prune or remove our trees to increase light levels to properties.

Trees and roosting birds

We value wildlife and support efforts to improve the natural environment.

We don't prune or remove trees for nuisance issues relating to birds, such as bird droppings or noise caused by roosting birds. In accordance with The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), care should be taken not to disturb nesting birds. The bird nesting season runs throughout March to August each year.

Trees and grey squirrels

Squirrels are opportunistic and will adapt to most environments where conditions allow them to thrive. Gardens are ideal places for squirrels as they provide food and shelter, and frequently people choose to feed them. However, occasionally squirrels can cause damage to property by getting into roof spaces, etc. Although they may use trees to access a property, they're also very capable of using telephone lines, cables, other structures, fences and anything they can climb or jump from. We won't prune trees to limit squirrel nuisance issues.

Telecommunications equipment affected by trees

A TV licence is a permit to operate a receiver and doesn't guarantee a TV reception.

We don't prune or remove our trees to improve TV receptions. Often the best long-term sustainable solution to resolve this issue is to relocate receiving equipment.

Telephone lines affected by trees 

It's recommended that all enquiries relating to telephone lines are directed to the service provider. They, as a statutory undertaker under the Telecommunications Act 1984, hold a telecommunications licence to carry out works to trees which affect the service they provide. OpenReach are currently responsible for clearance of BT lines, and problems with obstructing vegetation can be reported to their Wayleave Department on 0800 783 2023.

Trees and solar panels

We expect property owners and equipment installers to assess whether nearby trees may impact the future functioning and efficiency of solar panels. Trees won't be pruned or removed to improve solar panel performance.

Tree damage to property

All reports of structural damage caused by a council tree must be substantiated with appropriate evidence and supporting information. Often, the best way to do this is to contact the relevant household insurer.

We won't undertake work to our trees on unsubstantiated grounds or to allay fears of possible future damage.

Trees and drains

Tree roots won't normally cause a drain to break, although they will readily enter a pipe through an existing crack or faulty joint. When a council tree is suspected of causing a blockage, evidence should be provided through a survey of the drain. Where tree roots are found in a drain system they can often be severed and removed, but it's essential that the drain is repaired in such a way as to avoid the problem reoccurring.

Subsidence and trees

Tree root-induced subsidence only occurs on shrinkable clay soils, the volume of which alters according to moisture content. Tree roots extract water from the soil, which can cause it to become desiccated during dry summer months. Shrinkable clays contract as they dry out, which can cause foundations to move and cracks to open in a property. These cracks tend to close over the winter, while the trees are dormant, and the shrinkable clay soil rehydrates and expands. Tree-related subsidence is relatively uncommon in Shropshire and other causes (eg leaking drains or collapsing soil voids) can cause similar issues. Each case must therefore be carefully assessed by competent professionals. Supporting evidence must be provided to demonstrate each suspected claim. Evidence includes laboratory soil testing and root analysis, seasonal monitoring of crack widths and changes in property levels. All suspected tree-related subsidence issues should first be reported to insurers.

Trees, patios, drives, garden walls, etc

Tree roots can occasionally cause cracking or damage to hard surfaces and other structures, particularly where they don't have sufficient foundations or a sub-base to resist deflection from root growth. If a council tree is suspected of causing damage, evidence should be provided (eg photographs and a competent structural surveyor’s report). Any assessment should describe the likely cause, severity of the problem and possible solutions.

Our work standards

Any pruning operations we undertake will be carried out in accordance with BS:3998:2010 ‘Tree Work’ or other best practice guidelines.

Have another query?

If the above information doesn't address your query or issue, please contact us: