Problem tree growing over a public road or footpath
If the trees or bushes are overgrowing onto a public road or pavement, you can tell us about them online.
Report a tree growing over a public road or footpath
Is your tree causing a problem?
If your tree is causing a problem on a public road or footpath, you need to take action to make it safe. You can read more about your responsibilities in the section working on trees yourself.
If you do not take care of your tree and it is reported as a problem, we’ll get in touch with you telling you what you need to do to make it safe. If you don’t take any action, we will send you a formal notice describing what you must do.
If you don’t take the action described in the formal notice, we may take the action on your behalf and then ask you to pay the full costs. This is covered under the Highways Act 1980.
Please consider others and look after your trees.
Problem tree growing over from private land
If a tree is overgrowing from private land then it is the responsibility of the owner of the land or the occupier of the property to fix the issue. You need to contact the owner and resolve the issue between yourselves. If you are not sure who owns the land or the property, you can search the Land Registry website. If you can’t resolve the problem you will need to contact a solicitor for advice.
Working on trees yourself
You need to look after your hedges and trees, inspect them regularly, especially during the warm, wet summer months when they can grow very quickly.
If your tree is next to a road or pavement, the law says you have to cut it back if:
- drivers or pedestrians can’t see ahead or can’t get past
- it covers signs or streetlights
Overgrown trees can cause big safety problems for people using the pavement, especially for people who are blind, who use a wheelchair/mobility scooter or are pushing a pram. They may have to use the road, not the pavement to get past which is dangerous for both pedestrians and vehicles.
Disturbing wildlife or nesting birds and the law
You must check to see if there are any active nests before you start work, if there are you cannot start any work on a tree.
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.
Read advice from the RSPB about hedge cutting, especially during the nesting season.
Check for TPOs
You need to check if a tree has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or is in a conservation area before your start work. You can find trees with TPOs on our interactive map. If it does you will need to apply for permission to work on the tree. If you want to fell a number of trees, you can find out more on gov.uk or read the guide from the Forestry Commission.
Carrying out work safely
If you are cutting hedges and trees on the road, all work must be done safely by someone competent to do so. The work must be done to the standards in Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual.
When cutting back vegetation, it should be cut back leaving a minimum clear space for roads and footpaths:
- 5.2m height clearance for vegetation overhanging roads
- 2.1m height clearance for vegetation overhanging footpaths
- 2.5m height clearance for vegetation overhanging cycleways
These clearances are important as plant/tree regrowth can take place quickly.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
A Tree Preservation Order protects specific trees and groups of trees or woodlands from cutting down, cutting roots, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or destruction without our written consent.
Finding / Reporting a tree with a TPO
If you want to report a problem with a tree which has a TPO, you’ll need to include its reference number. You can find trees with TPOs using our interactive map or searching through our list of TPOs
Report a problem about a tree with a TPO
Trees with TPOs or within Conservation Areas
If you want to undertake work on a tree with a TPO, or on a tree in a designated conservation area, you’ll need to apply for permission from our planning team by using the Planning Portal.
The Planning Portal has extensive guidance on tree preservation orders and trees within a conservation area. We'd advise you to look through this information before applying for permission to work on a tree with a TPO or in a designated conservation area.
We also have a guide to making an application using the Planning Portal.