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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
If you would like further information you can contact us on (01706) 878660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org