We only look after trees and hedges on public and council land.

Overgrowing onto private land

We don’t deal with trees, hedges or bushes which are overgrowing onto private land, the landowner or occupier must deal with this.

If your neighbour’s tree or hedge is overgrowing into, or hanging over, your property and you can’t resolve it between you, it’s a civil matter so contact your solicitor for advice. If you don’t know whose land it is, check the Land Registry.

Overgrowing onto a road or pavement

If your tree or hedge is causing a problem on a public road or footpath, we’ll send you a letter or drop a note through your door to tell you what you need to do to make it safe.

If you don’t cut it back, we’ll send you a formal notice. But we’d prefer that it didn’t get to this stage - it costs money and officer time which could be better spent elsewhere. So please consider others and look after your trees and hedges.

If you still don’t cut it back after the formal notice, we may cut it and then recover the full cost from you.

We can do this under the Highways Act 1980.

Your responsibilities

Please look after your hedges and trees responsibly. Inspect them regularly, especially during the warm, wet summer months when they can grow very quickly.

If your tree or hedge is next to a road or pavement, the law says you have to cut it back if:

  • it means drivers or pedestrians can’t see ahead or can’t get past
  • it’s covering signs or streetlights

Overgrown hedges and trees can cause real safety problems for people using the pavement, especially for people who are blind, who use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, or are pushing a pram. It can even force them into the road to be able to get past, which is really dangerous.

The nesting season

Remember that all hedge cutting and tree works on the road must be done safely by those qualified to work in accordance with the recommendations in Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual. When working on the highway the person responsible for the work, or their contractor, must have Public Liability Insurance cover for working on the highway for a value of £5 million.

Vegetation should be cut back to maintain the minimum required clearances for roads and footways, remembering that regrowth can take place quickly:

  • 5.2m height clearance for vegetation overhanging roads
  • 2.1m height clearance for vegetation overhanging footpaths
  • 2.5m height clearance for vegetation overhanging cycleways.

Working on hedges

Hedges must be maintained to ensure that the highway remains accessible and safe.

Working on trees

If you need to carry out work on trees you should talk to us before pruning or tree felling as our consent may be needed if the tree has a preservation order or it’s in a conservation area. The Forestry Commission can give you advice if you need to fell a large number of trees.

Disturbing wildlife and nesting birds and the law

If tree works are likely to disturb wildlife you may need to apply for a wildlife licence.

We may request that works are carried out on trees covered by Preservation Orders when they present an urgent and serious safety risk. The Department for Communities and Local Government provides guidance to landowners with protected trees. Please contact our planning department for more information.

The RSPB provides advice on the best time of year to carry out any trimming to avoid the nesting season.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits damaging the nests of wild birds in use (or under construction) and their eggs. However, there are notable exceptions to this. We only request that landowners work on hedgerows during nesting season when works are necessary to ensure public health and safety.

If a problem is urgent such as a fallen tree or bushes forcing you to walk in the road please call us on 01925 443322 rather than filling in our online form