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Tree policy

We value our district wide tree cover and recognise the immense potential for human and environmental benefits associated with a healthy and sustainable tree population. Our tree policy aims to provide direction and ensure a consistent approach to trees in the district. Please note that we are only responsible for trees on council land.

Further information about specific aspects of our tree policy are shown below.

Common law rights

Overhanging branches

Under English Common Law there is a general right to cut overhanging branches back to your property boundary, however the owner of the tree is not usually obliged to cut them back – if you intend to cut overhanging branches you must not go beyond your boundary or ‘top’ someone else’s trees without their permission and you should normally return the branches unless you agree beforehand to dispose of them yourself.

It is always best to discuss any proposed work with your neighbour first to avoid any later claims of damage – you might even manage to get their help or agreement to remove more than you’re entitled to.

Please note: If the tree is protected by a tree preservation order (TPO) or in a conservation area you will need to apply for written permission from us before you do any work. Please contact us to check on the status of a tree before beginning any work.

Trees in conservation areas

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 makes special provision for trees in conservation areas which are not the subject of a tree treservation order (TPO). Under Section 211, if you are proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a conservation area you must give us six weeks prior notice.

The purpose of this requirement is to enable us to consider whether a TPO should be made in respect of a tree.

All trees growing within conservation areas and having a stem diameter of more than 7.5cm at 1.3 metres above ground level are considered protected.


Anyone who cuts down, uproots, tops, lops, wilfully destroys or wilfully damages a tree in a conservation area without giving a Section 211 notice is guilty of an offence. The same applies for contravening a TPO.

Anyone who commits such an offence and if convicted in the Magistrates Court, is liable to a fine of up to £20,000. Anyone who carries out work in a way that is not likely to destroy the tree is liable to a fine of up to £2500.

To check if a tree is protected please contact us.

Felling licences

The Forestry Commission is the responsible body for forestry in Great Britain. It protects Britain’s forests and encourages good forestry practice by setting standards, giving advice, providing information and by offering grants for expanding, regenerating and managing forests and woodlands. It also controls the felling of trees and issues felling licenses.

If you are unsure as to whether you require a licence, speak to your nearest Forestry Commission office for guidance before you start any tree felling.

You normally need to get permission from the Forestry Commission to fell growing trees. This is given with a felling licence or with approval under a Dedication Scheme. In certain circumstances you may also need special permission from another organisation for any proposed felling.

If there is no licence or other valid permission, or if the wrong trees are felled, anyone involved can be prosecuted. Any felling carried out without either a licence or other permission is an offence, unless it is covered by an exemption.

Further information is available at

Last updated: 04 April 2016

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