Use this page to find out more about our tree management policy, tree conservation areas and how you can report a problem with a tree.
Our tree management policy
We manage approximately 35,000 trees growing on council-owned land, such as parks, allotments, the highway, cemeteries and car parks. We also manage over 100 hectares of woodland and implement new tree planting schemes.
We cannot help with any enquiries about trees on private land unless the vegetation is creating a risk to a highway.
We inspect our trees regularly and we only prune or fell trees where necessary and for sound arboricultural/risk management reasons. We will plant more trees than we fell each year and we prioritise tree pruning actions that resolve safety issues over perceived nuisances.
If you have a query relating to a tree in a council-owned park, open space, cemetery, allotment, woodland, car park or on the public highway, please contact the tree managers via Council Connect on 01225 394041.
To find out more about our tree management policies and the importance of trees, visit our trees and woodlands page.
Tree management guidance
Because of the high number of trees we manage and the need to prioritise the inspection and management of safety, we are not always able to respond to ad hoc enquiries about trees.
Select a topic below to find out more about our tree management policies and answers to common queries:
Trees belong to the owner of the land in which the tree is growing.
If you are unsure of the ownership of the tree or trees that concern you, you can carry out a Land Registry Search for a small fee, which will tell you who the land belongs to (if it has a registered owner).
We are not directly responsible for managing trees on school sites, children’s centres, Curo housing estates or Sirona sites. Please contact the relevant site staff.
We do have a level of responsibility relating to private trees in falling distance of a public highway. We may be able to advise or take direct action if a tree is causing a hazard to highway users. If you have concerns over a tree, please contact the tree managers on 01225 394041.
We have specific powers to protect trees by making Tree Preservation Orders. These orders make it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without our permission.
Some trees are protected by Conservation Areas. It is an offence to prune, fell or damage a tree in a Conservation Area with a trunk diameter of 75mm or more (when measured 1.5m above ground level) without notifying us.
There are over 30 designated Conservation Areas within Bath and North East Somerset.
You can view these areas on our Conservation Area map.
There is no legal obligation for tree owners, including the council, to remove or prune trees if they are blocking:
- sunlight or street lamps
- views into neighbouring properties
- TV or satellite signal
There is no legal obligation for a property owner to prune or remove their trees for reasons of light loss to a neighbouring property or to protect or enhance views. A ‘right to light’ is difficult to prove and only refers to buildings and light, not to gardens and sunlight.
We will routinely prune tree branches of council-owned trees that are obscuring street lights as part of the tree works programme. This type of work is rarely urgent, so will not be prioritised above other health and safety works. Trees on private land obstructing street lamps are dealt with by the Highways Team, who will contact the landowners to inform them that they need to arrange the pruning works.
There is no legal obligation for a property owner to prune or remove their trees to improve the view to a neighbouring property.
Blocked TV or satellite signal
There is no legal obligation for a tree owner such as the council to prune or remove trees for reasons of loss of satellite or TV reception to adjacent properties. A television licence allows a property to legally receive television signals but does not guarantee reception or quality of broadcast signal.
You have a common law right to remove overhanging branches from trees encroaching onto your property.
However, you can only cut parts of the tree where they cross the boundary onto your property. You do not have the legal right to remove any part of a tree that does not overhang your property.
If you want to remove overhanging branches from trees protected by a Tree Conservation order or in a Conservation Area, you need to give us 6 weeks notice using our planning portal.
You should consult a professional tree surgeon for guidance on how best to prune back encroaching trees, unless you could do the works with hand secateurs or similar.
Trees are not necessarily dangerous just because they're big or tall or because they are situated within falling distance of buildings and roads. Trees in general do not collapse because of their height alone. It is usually because the trees are dead or dying or have a root or basal issue that can cause the tree to fall.
Our regular tree inspections look for signs that trees are dead or dying, or if tree limbs become unsafe. We will fell trees or remove tree limbs that pose an unacceptably high risk of causing damage or injury.
You may see that trees on private land are being heavily pollarded or ‘topped’ to reduce their height. However, our Tree and Woodland Team will only do this in exceptional circumstances, as it can affect the health and structural integrity of the tree and lead to costly future management work.
We need to prioritise emergency responses to dangerous trees. After bad weather, we are often busy clearing fallen trees from roads and removing branches from powerlines.
If a tree near your property has been damaged or affected by a storm, please report this to us if you think it presents an immediate risk by using the online report it form, or contact Council Connect on 01225 394041.
You need to provide details on the size of the tree, what damage you can see and its location so we can prioritise works from a safety perspective. You should also provide your contact details, if possible.
We have an Ash Dieback Action Plan to inform our response to this disease that affects ash trees.
Our Tree team regular inspects our tree stock for signs of Ash Dieback, and takes the necessary measures to remove trees before they become dangerous. Where possible, we try to plant new trees to replace the ones that need to be felled.
We do not give permission for members of the public to use chainsaws or other potentially dangerous tools on our land to process and remove felled timber.
Dead wood is a valuable wildlife habitat and wherever we can we will leave it in parks and open spaces for wildlife.
Tree roots can only grow through gaps, so will only grow into a drain that is already broken or damaged. Trees very rarely damage or break the drains in the first place.
If tree roots are found in a drain, it is usually symptomatic of an underlying problem that means the drain will need to be repaired.
We need to give consent for any trees planted on counil-owned land, in case they are unsuitable. For example, some trees may grow too large for the place they have been planted.
Our expert Tree team is best placed to decide where trees should be planted in parks and verges. We will work with individuals and organisations that wish to plant trees on council-owned land.
We cannot provide memorial trees in parks. Parks are dynamic landscapes where plaques can go missing or trees need to be felled at short notice. In these circumstances, we are unable to notify bereaved relatives in advance.
The most suitable location for memorial trees is at a cemetery or memorial garden, where accurate records can be kept and memorial plaques are protected.
Leaves, blossom and natural detritus
We regularly clear leaves from hard surfaces in public areas, including:
- areas of hard standing in parks
We will not clear leaves from private land.
We take as many leaves as possible to allotments where they can be re-used by allotment holders.
We also compost leaves in parks, where the leaves can be turned back into a useable leaf-mould compost which can be used on parks’ shrub borders. This enriches the soil and creates a habitat for invertebrates, providing food for birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife.
Report an obstruction or safety concern
Hedges and trees that grow on the boundary of footpaths or on adjacent land are generally the responsibility of the adjoining property or landowner.
We will intervene if there is a safety concern associated with encroaching or overhanging vegetation. For example, if it is forcing footway users into the road in order to pass by.