Rossendale Borough Council

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Tree pruning

From time to time trees may require pruning to help retain them in a safe and healthy condition. This guidance seeks to set out the situations where pruning may be undertaken by the Council in order to balance the needs of an individual with the public amenity that the trees provide.

Appropriate  types  of  tree  work  vary  according  to  species  characteristics,  age, condition,  location,  past management  and  the  nature  of  any  associated  issue.

The most common types of tree work that will be undertaken by the Council are set out below.

Formative Pruning

This is pruning undertaken early in a tree's life, to create good crown structure and to produce a mature  tree which  is  free  from major  structural weaknesses  in  the  future. Unwanted secondary leading shoots and potentially weak forks are removed. Crossed branches should be removed at this early stage.

Crown Lifting

This involves the removal of the lower branches of the tree's crown to provide height above ground level. This is achieved either through the removal of entire branches, or the parts of branches which extend below the desired height of the crown lift.

Crown Reduction

This is a reduction of a tree's crown carried out by pruning back to side branches or buds to retain a flowing branch line. This should ideally be a once-only operation to bring it to a desirable condition or shape. Regular crown  reduction can be harmful  to the  tree,  and  new  growth  from  the  pruning  cuts  has  a weakened  attachment  to  the tree, and so may result in the tree becoming a potential hazard.

Crown Thinning

This involves the removal of secondary, small, crossing, weak, duplicated, dead and damaged  branches  throughout  the  crown  (up  to  a maximum  of  15%  of  the  original foliage),  to  leave an even density of  foliage  in  the crown. This process can stimulate the growth of new shoots, and a dense crown will frequently redevelop after work of this type.


This  involves  the  removal of  some  or all  of  the  larger  limbs, with  the  aim of  adding length  to  the  life of  the  tree, and producing new growth  from  the pruning  cuts. Only trees that have a history of being managed by pollarding will continue to be managed in such a way, because the size of the pruning wounds can initiate serious decay.


Pruning will only normally be undertaken where one or more of the following conditions apply:

  • The work is required to reduce an unacceptable risk to health and safety
  • The work is required to prevent direct physical damage to buildings.
  • The work accords with the latest version of British Standard 3998.
  • The work will not adversely affect the tree's public amenity value
  • The work is necessary to improve the growth of adjacent, better quality trees.

Examples  of  situations  where  tree  pruning  may  be  appropriate  are  outlined below:

  • Trees in physical contact with buildings, fences and other infrastructure
  • Trees growing close to or across a neighbouring boundary
  • Trees that obstruct or overhang the public highway or a public right of way.
  • Trees causing a legal nuisance to an adjoining property
  • Trees obscuring traffic sight lines, access, CCTV, signage and street-lighting
  • Young trees which require formative pruning to improve crown shape and branch structure
  • Removal of hazards such as dead or diseased material, broken branches and storm damage to make a tree safe, or to reshape and balance the crown.

Minor nuisances caused by trees will only merit remedial action if no alternative measures can be taken to alleviate the situation.

Work on trees that pose a direct risk to health and safety is the priority of the Council and will be addressed before 'good neighbourly' issues (the pruning of overhanging trees etc).

The Council will not normally undertake pruning that may be detrimental to the health, form or vigour of trees within its management.  However,  reasonable  steps  will  be undertaken  where  appropriate  to  ensure  that  our  trees  do  not  pose  any  significant adverse effects on neighbouring property. The merits of each particular case will be considered, and a decision will be made based on individual circumstances.

In  addition  to  these  criteria,  the  following  guidance  applies  for  particular  issues common when trees are situated in proximity to dwellings:


Operations solely to improve the availability of light can be large undertakings and commitments, and sustainable solutions are difficult to implement. For these reasons  only  in  exceptional  circumstances  will  the  Council  prune  trees  to improve the availability of light.


There  is  no  maximum  height  to  which  the  Council  allows  its  trees  to  reach, unless there is a reason to control the size and natural growth characteristics in order  to  reduce  an  unacceptable  risk  to  health  and  safety. Wherever possible, Council-owned trees are left to reach their natural size and shape.


It is very rare for there to exist a right in law to a view, and a view obstructed by the  growth  of  trees  cannot  legally  be  regarded  as  a  nuisance.  Therefore the council will not normally undertake tree works solely to improve the view from a property/area.

Sky/TV/Radio Reception

There  is  no  legal  right  to  uninterrupted  television  or  other  reception.  Impaired reception  due  to  perceived  interference  from  trees  will  only  merit  remedial  pruning where engineering solutions have been implemented, the work required is  constant  with  good  arboricultural  practice,  and  will  not  unduly  affect  the amenity or health of the tree, and current financial constraints allow.

Seeds, Leaves and Fruit

Leaves, seeds and fruit are carried on the wind, and are largely out of the control of  the Council,  therefore  pruning work will  not  normally  be  carried  out  based solely on problems arising from their seasonal fall. The fall of leaves, seeds and fruit from trees can cause frustration, though it is widely accepted that this is an unavoidable problem which occurs together with all the benefits associated with living in proximity to trees.

Seasonal/Natural Phenomena

The Council will not normally undertake work solely to alleviate problems caused by natural and/or seasonal phenomena - for example:

  • Leaves, fruit, bird droppings, sap or blossom,
  • Reduction or increase of moisture to gardens
  • Leaves in gutters, drains or flat roofs
  • Algae or moss on surfaces
  • Allergies caused/exacerbated by trees
  • Toxicity 

If you would like further information you can contact us on (01706) 878660 or email