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We realise that tree law and the many terms used within arboriculture can be potentially awkward to navigate, so we've put together a brief FAQ and useful links to help you understand your garden and what's best for it.

Q: My neighbour's tree overhangs my garden. Can I cut it back?

A: You can cut back any part of a tree (including the roots) that crosses the boundary to your property. The cut-off parts remain the property of your neighbour, and you should offer them back before disposing of them. You should check whether a tree has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or is in a conservation area before doing any work.

Q: Who is responsible for a tree's condition and maintenance?

A: A tree is the responsibility of the owner of the land that the tree is situated on, regardless of who planted the tree. If property is rented, the tree may be the responsibility of the landlord or the tenant (depending on what's stated in the lease).

Q: I'm concerned that a tree may cause damage. What can I do?

A: The owner of a tree may be liable for any damage caused by it, particularly if they planted the tree knowing that it could cause damage or if they had been negligent. Write to the owner of the tree (keep a copy of the letter) and ask them to have the tree checked by an arboriculturist. If this is unsuccesful, it may be possible to take further action via the local authority or a court injunction. If the tree belongs to you, check that your insurance covers any damage that the tree might cause and seek the advice of an arboriculturist.

Q: Leaves falling from a tree are causing issues. Is anyone liable?

A: Falling leaves are uncontrollable and fall seasonally, so the owner is unlikely to be found responsible by law.

Q: What effect does a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) have?

A: A TPO is set by a local council to protect tree that have a positive impact on the local environment. Your local council's permission is required before undertaking any work on a tree or trees protected by a TPO. If you are refused permission to work on a protected tree, you can appeal the decision by contacting the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister within 28 days of the refusal. Failure to comply with the conditions of a TPO can result in a fine of up to £20,000.

Q: There are birds nesting in a tree on my property. Can I still work on the tree in question?

A: All active bird nests are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. As such, if any active nests are present in a tree, all work on that tree should be postponed until the chicks have grown and left. With this in mind, it is often better to consider putting off some larger tree works (e.g. the reduction of a long run of conifers) until after bird nesting season (Feb-Aug).


Click here to read Mansfield Disctrict Council's FAQ regarding trees

Click here for explanations of the many terms used on this site



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