Trees, woodlands and hedges - FAQs

How long does it take to deal with an application to work on a tree protected by a tree preservation order (TPO)? 

You must have permission to undertake works on trees if they're covered by a tree preservation order (TPO), or if they fall within a conservation area.

We should deal with an application to work on a tree protected by a tree preservation order within eight weeks, and will normally write to you within this time to let you know of the decision. If you haven't heard anything within this time you can assume your application has been refused. If you're not happy with this decision you can appeal it.

In a conservation area we must let you know of a decision within six weeks of receiving the letter. If you haven't heard anything after this you can assume that there's no objection to your proposals. We'll normally contact you to let you know there's no objection.

How do I find a good tree surgeon? 

Take a look at our Tree surgeons page for more information.

Some workers are felling a tree in a conservation area, or a tree which has a tree preservation order on it. Who do I contact to get the work stopped? 

Contact the tree and woodland amenity protection officer on 01743 253333, who will check whether the relevant permission has been given, and take the appropriate action if not.

How do you ensure trees are protected on development sites? 

Trees are very vulnerable to damage whilst building works go on around them. We aim to ensure that trees that are retained on development sites are protected from damage as much as possible by requiring developers to take special precautions. New guidelines on protecting trees on development sites are currently being prepared.

How do I find out who owns a tree? 

A tree is owned by (and therefore the responsibility of) the person on whose land it stands.

If a tree straddles a border, ownership lies with the land on which it was originally planted. This can be difficult to determine, so in practice shared ownership is often assumed.

For all practical purposes trees in the highway are the responsibility of our Highways and Traffic team, which has an interest in ensuring that these trees do not present a danger to highway users. A highways technician can require landowners to remove or prune trees adjacent to the highway if they are considered to be dangerous.

For more information, contact your solicitor, or the relevant highways manager in Highways Maintenance.

Do I need permission to fell or prune trees on my land? 

You must have permission to undertake works on trees if they're covered by a tree preservation order (TPO), or if they fall within a conservation area. You may also need a felling licence from the Forestry Commission if you're felling more than three metre cubed of timber, though gardens and certain other sites are exempt from felling licences.

Other than the above controls you're probably entitled to undertake works to trees that you own. It's advisable to contact either us or the Forestry Commission, who'll be able to give you a definitive answer on specific cases.

I want to plant trees - where do I go for advice and grants? 

Advice and grants are available from several sources within Shropshire. The Forestry Commission administers grants and schemes, which provides advice and very worthwhile grants for the establishment of woodlands over 0.25 hectares (ha).

For areas of woodland under 0.25 ha advice should be sought from either the Northern Shropshire Countryside Team or the Shropshire Hills National Landscape Team, depending on your location.

What damages tree roots? 

Mature trees are particularly susceptible to root damage, so any activities around the roots of trees need to be carefully considered in order to minimise this. A tree stays upright in the same way as a wine glass does - the roots form a plate or base usually at least the same width as the crown. Few trees have a significant 'tap root'.

Given this support mechanism, any trenching works passing close to the stem of the tree are likely to cut off nearly half of its support. If the trench is then filled with a concrete foundation the tree will be unable to replace this root system. Root systems not only provide stability but also absorb water and nutrients, so loss can also lead to drought and starvation.

Compaction of the soil around roots destroys the soil structure and stops the flow of water and nutrients within the soil, whilst also preventing gaseous exchange ('breathing'), which is vital to root survival. Therefore, you should avoid regularly driving vehicles over the root plate, or any other actions which may lead to compaction (such as the storage of heavy items). Tree roots may also be directly crushed by the movement of heavy vehicles etc.

Herbicides and other toxic or chemically active materials (such as diesel oil) will also cause damage or death if they come into contact with a tree or its roots.

For more information please contact us via the details on this page or consult a professional arboriculturalist.

What is a tree preservation order (TPO)? 

What is a conservation area? 

Does ivy damage trees?

Ivy isn't a parasite. Plants derive all their nutrients and water through their own root system, and only use trees for support. If ivy was parasitic then it would be unable to survive on dead trees or walls. It has a very high wildlife value, as it provides both habitat and food for a wide range of birds, insects and animals. Ivy may however constrict the stem growth of saplings, and can cause stability problems to very over-mature trees in poor health during winter storms.

You can find out more on the Shropshire Wildlife Trust website.

How are hedgerows protected?

Hedgerows are protected under the 1997 Hedgerow Regulations. They make it a legal requirement to notify us before removing a whole hedgerow or part of one. Hedgerows are considered worthy of protection due to the number of woody species they contain, or to associations with ancient monuments, historical parish or manor boundaries and other features.

How do I care for my newly planted tree?

Advice on the what, where and how of tree planting can be found in the Arboricultural Association's Introductory Guide to Young Tree Establishment.

Find out more about reporting tree issues.