Dangerous Trees on private land
The Council will only deal with trees that are imminently dangerous and are risk of causing life-threatening injury.
Trees can become imminently dangerous due to a singular event such as a storm, flood or vehicular damage in an accident, resulting in part, or all, of the tree presenting a danger to the public. Alternatively, a tree may reach a dangerous state by ongoing decay or disease, or may have grown in such a way as to be structurally unsound.
The Council will only investigate complaints if the tree is considered imminently dangerous . For example, a large broken hanging branch or severed roots allowing an entire tree to rock at soil level.
The Council will not deal with trees where there is a perceived danger, such as a tall tree, one close to a building or one that sways in the wind. These trees are not considered to be in a dangerous condition and pose no imminent danger. The Council will not consider the prospects of the future condition of the tree and will only consider its current condition.
If you consider a tree to be imminently dangerous and there is a risk of causing life threatening injury, then please report the matter to the Public Health and Protection Section on 01443 425001. At the time of making the report you must state why you think the tree is imminently dangerous and who it will affect if the whole tree or parts of the tree were to fall.
The council will not consider:-
Issues surrounding lack of light
Trees blocking view .
Issues with overhanging branches – unless dangerous.
Fruit or leaf issues including slippery surfaces or blocking drains.
Sticky ‘goo’ on cars.
Satellite/TV signal (It is up to the supplier to provide adequate signal, not the Council to prune or fell any healthy trees to allow a signal to be received)
Trees affecting a Highway
If there is a dangerous tree adjacent to the Highway then the Highway Section will investigate this matter. To report a dangerous tree on Highway please contact 01443 425001 .
Highways will deal with trees in the following circumstances:
Trees obscuring vehicle sight line at junctions
Trees within head/ eye height on/ over footways
Trees fallen across the Highway/footpath
Dangereous Trees on Council Owned land
Dangerous trees on Council-owned land should be reported firstly to our Property Information Team on 01443 665710, they will then direct the query to the relevant Council department for them to deal with as appropriate.
Tree Preservation Order
The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and associated Regulations enables us to protect trees in the interests of amenity, by making tree preservation orders (TPOs).
The making of an order, in general, makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without our permission. The purpose of an order is to protect selected trees and woodlands if their removal would have a significant impact on the environment and its enjoyment by the public. We have a duty to make tree preservation orders, where appropriate, when granting planning permission.
Government circular guidance advises that we need to be able to show that a reasonable degree of public benefit would accrue before orders are made or confirmed. The trees should therefore normally be visible from a public place such as a road or public footpath, although exceptionally, the inclusion of other trees may be justified. The benefit may be present or future (for example, when proposed development has taken place).
For further details please contact:
Environment and Highways
Telephone : 01443 400563
Frequently Asked Questions
I have a tree growing in my garden. What are my responsibilities?
If you have freehold ownership of land upon which a tree grows you are responsible for it, unless you have leased the land to a third party who, through the terms of the lease, has accepted this responsibility. The owner of a tree owes a duty of care to all third parties and is at all times liable for any nuisance or damage the tree causes. Should the tree owner be aware of a defect in his/her tree and not address it, and damage subsequently results, he/she may be held liable for negligence. The duty of care extends even to persons who may trespass onto the tree owner's land.
My neighbours have planted a tree very close to our boundary. Can they do this?
There is no law preventing any person planting or growing a tree anywhere on his/her property. Neither is there any restriction upon the size to which they may grow it. However any person who plants a poisonous tree so close to a boundary that its branches grow over that boundary and are eaten by a neighbour's livestock, may be held liable for damages. If however a neighbour's livestock reach over to the tree owner's side of the boundary to eat the leaves, the tree owner will not be liable unless he/she has a legal responsibility to maintain the boundary.
The branches of my neighbour's tree extend over my property, what can I do?
Common law allows you to prune unprotected trees and hedges overhanging your land and the roots growing under your land up to your boundary without the consent of the owner, but you must not trespass on to your neighbour's land to do this. In addition you must offer to return the wood and any fruit attached or which has fallen on to your land. However you do have a duty of care for the tree and may be liable for damages if any work you do, or ask others to do for you, causes the tree to die or become dangerous. If the tree is protected this common law right is void and consent must be sought from the council's Tree Section before any work takes place.
My neighbour's tree is blocking my light. What can I do?
There is no prescriptive right to light. Any case in respect of loss of light must be proven in the Civil Court. If successful an injunction may be served by the Court requiring the offending trees to be reduced in height or restricting their further growth. The Council does have powers under High Hedge Legislation, however there is certain criteria that has to be met before the Council can act on this type of complaint.
Further information regarding this process can be found in the related information section of this page.
My neighbour's trees are blocking my view. What can I do?
Nothing except speak to your neighbour and ask him/her to remedy the situation. There is no right to a view.
My neighbour's tree roots are causing damage to my property. What can I do?
If you believe your property to be suffering direct or indirect damage by tree roots, you are best advised to consult an arboricultural consultant (tree care specialist) or a building surveyor. There will usually be evidence of damage such as deformation, bowing or cracking of walls, uneven surfacing or blocked drains. If this is the case you should notify your building insurer who may initiate further investigations and negotiate with the tree owner and their insurer. In cases where damage is proven, the tree owner is liable.These types of issues are private matters in which the Council cannot act.
I believe my neighbour's tree to be dangerous. What can I do?
The definition of 'dangerous' is ambiguous. A tree is not dangerous because it is tall or has a wide, spreading crown. Before taking any action you should contact a specialist tree consultant of contractor. Once you are sure of your facts, you should notify your neighbour of your concerns and ask that he/she address the problem. If he/she does not and some damage accrues from this negligence then you may take action against the tree owner through the courts where it may be possible to obtain an injunction requiring the tree owner to take whatever action is necessary to remedy the problem.
Can the Council deal with dangerous trees?
The Council has powers to deal with trees which are 'imminently dangerous' (i.e. diseased, dangerous branches, uprooted trees, fallen trees, etc). The Council cannot take action against a neighbour's tree or a tree on private land just because of the fear and apprehension the tree causes to you. The Council can require owners of trees deemed to be in a dangerous condition to take action to address the danger.
The following are typical examples of invalid interpretations of a dangerous tree:
The tree is too tall, too big, it has a broad crown:
A tall tree and/or a broad spreading crown is not a dangerous tree. Trees will natural grow as their genetic codes of their species dictate, and depending on the presence of external influences such as adjacent structures, natural competition from other trees, soil type and fertility or microclimate.
The tree sways when its windy:
A tree swaying in the wind is not a dangerous tree. Trees will naturally bend and sway in the wind, as the pliability in the branches is a natural mechanism which helps prevent fracture.
The tree has a lean:
A tree which has grown with a lean is not a dangerous tree. The tree develops fatter growth rings on one side to make it stable.
There is a tree on neighboring land causing me problems but I do not know who owns it. How do I find out?
The Council cannot investigate land ownership. You should contact the Land Registry at:
Land Registry Wales Office
Tŷ Cwm Tawe
Tel: 01792 355000
Fax: 01792 355055
Telephone: 01443 425001
Fax: 01443 425301