Tree management FAQs

Questions relating to protected trees – Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Areas and development sites

How do I find out if a tree is protected?

Some trees are protected under law: they may be covered by a Tree Preservation Orders (TPO); they may be growing in a Conservation Area; and they may be retained or planted as part of a Planning Consent. Please remember that the management of a tree protected with a TPO, or in a Conservation Area, remains the responsibility of the tree owner, subject to any necessary planning consent. The Council is not responsible for the maintenance of privately-owned trees.

The Planning department retains the paper copies and you are (under normal circumstances) able to view them by appointment with the planning department.

A Tree Preservation Order is placed on a tree (or group of trees) to protect those that make a significant impact on their local surroundings. It is an order made by a local planning authority which makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without the planning authority’s permission.

Find out more about protected trees on the Welsh Government website.

All trees and shrubs in a Conservation Area are protected if they have with a stem diameter equal to or greater than 75mm (that’s about 23.5cm in girth) measured 1.5m above ground level. It does not matter how tall the tree is, or what species or age it is. Conservation Area boundaries are shown on the Tree Preservation Order interactive map.

If building work is taking place it is likely that the owner will have made an application to the planning department. Details of the development, including which trees are to be felled, retained or new trees planted can be found on the PublicAccess Portal. The map will allow you to zoom in to locate the area and the planning applications associated with it. Click the red outline for the application details. For further information, please contact the planning department.

On a nearby building site, the builders are felling/pruning trees. Is this permitted?

Trees on sites to be developed (their retention, felling, pruning, and replacement) are part of the planning application and approval process. Any work to trees must be agreed between the developer and the Planning Authority and have explicit consent.  Full planning permission will override the legal protection of Tree Preservation Orders or trees in Conservation Areas. The application, plans and decisions relating to the application are available to view on the PublicAccess Portal If an application is pending but tree felling is taking place without agreed planning consent, then please contact the planning department.  Planning may impose conditions during the planning approvals process to help ensure trees receive adequate protection during the construction phase. These details are available on the PublicAcccess Portal.

My tree has a TPO but I think it is dangerous – it’s dropping twigs/branches onto the road. What should I do?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by us, giving legal protection to trees or woodland. A TPO prevents cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, willful damage or destruction of trees (including cutting roots) without our permission.

It does not mean that a tree may never be pruned or removed – if those actions are necessary and reasonable, the application you submit for the work will be approved. The owner of a tree protected by a TPO must get prior written planning consent before going ahead with works to that tree. If it is your neighbour’s tree overhanging your garden, you will still need to apply for consent for work to the tree.

Visit our Tree preservation orders section of the web site for details including application forms and guidance on how to fill in the forms. The Planning department can send you paper copies of the forms or you can use the online form.

All tree owners (whether protected trees or not) have a duty of care to other people in both civil and criminal law to take reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable injury or harm. This means that you should check on your tree to look for broken branches that may fall and cause damage to your neighbour or adjacent property, including roads and footpaths, particularly after storms.

We advise that you employ a professional Arboricultural Consultant to check the tree for you, and if pruning work is advised to your TPO tree they will be able to help with the application forms, especially any technical terms required to describe the type and extent of the pruning work.

We have prepared a list of suitably qualified Arboricultural Consultants and local tree surgeons. Alternatively, email to request a copy.  You can also search for professional help from consultants on the Arboricultural Association website.

I think my protected tree is dead. Can I remove it?

Under an exemption in the legislation any protected tree that is dead, dying or dangerous can be removed without the need to submit an application. However, unless the tree is imminently dangerous, please give five days’ notice so that we can arrange any inspections needed. This is in your interests – you could be prosecuted if you have carried out unauthorised work or have used the exemption without good reason. We strongly advise that removal (or any other emergency) works is undertaken by reputable and suitably insured local tree surgery contractors. Alternatively, email to request a copy.  If you think your protected tree is dead, dying or dangerous, please email us at and include photographs of the tree from various angles so that we can assess the trees condition.

If I see work being carried out on a protected tree, how can I find out if the owner (or neighbour) has Council permission?

All planning applications, including Tree Preservation Orders, are available to view on the Public Access Portal.

If using the map, change the filter to show applications for the last two years. Then scroll to the area where the tree is located and click. A box will pop-up with a link to the documents showing consent or refusal.

I live in a Conservation Area. Can I cut down the tree in my garden?

Trees in Conservation Areas that are already protected by a Tree Preservation Order are subject to the normal TPO controls and you will need to apply for consent to undertake work on your tree.

For other trees over 75mm in diameter at 1.5m above ground (23.5cm in girth as a guide) in a Conservation Area you must give six weeks’ prior written notice to the Local Planning Authority (by letter or email) of any proposed work to the tree, describing where the tree is and what you want to do. This gives the Planning Authority an opportunity to consider protecting the tree with a Tree Preservation Order to safeguard the tree for the benefit of the wider community.

You must not carry out any work during that six-week period without prior written consent. If you do, you could be fined. You may also have to plant a replacement tree.

You do not need to give notice if the tree is less than 75mm in diameter, measured 1.5 metres above the ground (or 100mm if thinning to help the growth of other trees).

Find out more about protected trees on the Welsh Government website.

There are trees which I think should be protected by a Tree Preservation Order. What can I do?

If you feel that a tree should be protected by a Tree Preservation Order, please contact email  Please provide details of the tree(s), including location (as accurately as possible) preferably with photographs of the tree and the reasons why you think that tree warrants protection, or what immediate threat is posed to it.

Questions relating to council trees

I'm worried about the condition of a tree on council-held land, what can I do?

If the tree outside or near your property, or in your neighbouring area or local park, is showing signs of distress or poor health, please report this to us.

How large is the tree? (e.g. taller than a double decker bus, or twice the height of the street-light or higher than the ridge on the roof, etc.) Where exactly is it – in grass or a pavement? When did you notice a change in its condition?

Some symptoms that you may notice are:

  • No leaves in the summer – this tree may be dead
  • Dead limbs in the canopy
  • Fungus in the base, or on the trunk, or nearby on the ground – photographs of any fungi would be very useful
  • The tree has started to lean when it was upright before
  • The base has been damaged more than half-way round
  • Tree showing signs of die-back, sparse branch tips, the leaves turning brown and falling in the summer
  • Trunk is visibly moving at the base (or lower trunk), or ground lifting around the tree
  • The trunk has a long vertical split
  • Fallen branch or stem
  • Snapped branch – but still attached – or a loose (unattached) branch overhanging a road/footway/bench/property

Every year I get falling fruit, leaves and bird mess from the council’s/neighbour’s tree – can I have the tree pruned or removed?

The seasonal shedding of leaves, fruits and flowers is a natural function of a tree’s biology. The tree owner (council or privately owned) is not under any obligation to prune or remove trees for these reasons. This is a naturally occurring 'seasonal nuisance' and we will not undertake any mitigating actions. Nor will we inspect or maintain trees in response to complaints of falling leaves or other small biomass such as seeds, berries, blossom, etc.

A range of brushes, guards, meshes and grids are widely available to help stop gutters and drains from blocking and may help with some of your regular household maintenance.

If public paths have becoming slippery you can report it to highways customer care as an obstruction of the highway.  

If you are a council tenant, please report the issue to your local housing office.

I am a Housing tenant; how do I get my tree pruned?

If you are a council tenant, please report the issue to your local housing office.

They will discuss the issue with you and confirm who is responsible for the tree. They will forward your enquiry to us if that is considered necessary. Please do not contact the Tree Section or Parks Division directly, as we are unable to deal with these enquiries without prior request from Housing. Please note that we do not prune deciduous trees in relation to light in your house or garden, or any trees in relation to TV/satellite reception. Housing estate trees in public spaces are inspected on a regular, cyclical basis and any remedial pruning is arranged as necessary.

A Council tree overhangs my boundary. Can I have it pruned?

We do not undertake unscheduled inspection/pruning of a tree(s) solely due to overhanging foliage if it is not physically touching any building or structure. Helpful information can be found on the overhanging vegetation section

When we have scheduled tree inspections in an area, we may then arrange for overhanging vegetation belonging to the council to be pruned away from boundary walls, fences, buildings or sheds. If the overhanging vegetation is causing or may cause damage to an adjacent property this would be deemed a “legal nuisance”. In the case of legal nuisance, the vegetation owner (council or neighbour) would be advised to remove (abate) the nuisance.

Branches are touching my building from one of the council's trees. Can I have it pruned?

Yes. Please contact Customer Care. Please include photographs of the tree from various angles so that we can clearly and quickly understand the issue.

Once we have verified that the land/tree is council owned we can arrange an inspection. Any necessary pruning will be undertaken at the earliest opportunity. If it is not a council owned tree we will not be able to help, and you should discuss the matter with the tree owner.

Helpful information can be found on the overhanging vegetation webpage.

If you are a council housing tenant and have issues involving trees on housing land, you should contact your local area housing office.  They will then decide if the tree needs an inspection and will pass the matter to the Parks department. When the tree officer is working in that area the tree will be inspected and any pruning work needed to maintain a healthy tree will be listed and passed back to housing for their authorisation.

Unless it is an immediate emergency, please do not contact the Parks department or Tree Section in the first instance as we cannot deal with it initially.

Can the Council come and prune my tree (on private property)?

No. We recommend you seek advice from an independent arboricultural professional.

We have prepared a list of suitably qualified Arboricultural Consultants and local tree surgeons. Alternatively, email to request a copy.  You can also search for professional help from consultants on the Arboricultural Association website.

Before any work is undertaken check to see if there are Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) on any trees or whether they are in a Conservation Area. Please refer to the map and the FAQs on protected trees and make an application/notify us as appropriate.

There is a sticky mess (Honeydew) on my car/garden/decking; can I have the tree pruned or removed?

No. We are under no obligation to carry out work on a tree for this specific reason. The production of 'Honeydew' is a natural process resulting from aphids feeding on foliage sap. This cannot be stopped or effectively controlled. 'Honeydew' can be removed from hard surfaces by washing or scrubbing with ample, preferably warm, soapy water. It is essentially just sugar-water; it can be unpleasant and frustrating, but it is harmless to people, textiles and vehicle paintwork. [source: Research for Amenity Trees Number 2 – 'Diagnosis of Ill-Health in Trees' by Strouts & Winter]

You may find that wasps are attracted to the sap. They are making the most of a free lunch and there is nothing that can be done to dissuade them from this easy food supply. Wasps are important in the environment – they are predators and eat the aphids causing the honeydew as well as many caterpillars. They play a vital ecological role.

Bumblebees will also opportunistically feed on the sugar-rich honeydew, which provides them with carbohydrates, in a similar way to nectar. Bumblebee colony success is all down to energy economics and bumblebees naturally attempt to collect food as efficiently as possible. It may be that during these aphid booms the bumble bees take advantage of this easy, larger or more energy-rich fast-food on offer! For more information go to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at this website.

The footway/pavement is damaged by tree roots and needs repairing. Who should I contact?

The highways (including footways) are inspected at regular intervals by a Highways Inspector, who will address any problems with the pavement surface. Please report issues to Highways Customer Care.  

Light to my property is blocked by a council tree outside my house; can the tree be pruned/removed?

No. We do not prune or remove trees for this specific reason alone. Residents have no legal right to light as far as deciduous trees are concerned. However, in due course our planned tree maintenance may help to alleviate the situation.

If the issue relates to a row of evergreen trees please refer to our high hedges section for details. High hedge issues are dealt with by environmental health and not the parks department.

My TV/satellite reception is poor, can I have a tree pruned or removed?

No. There is no legal right to TV/satellite reception and, therefore, we are not obliged to prune or remove the tree(s) for satellite reception. It could be that your TV aerial or satellite dish may need to be repositioned, or that you may need to consider the use of aerial/satellite signal reception 'boosters'.

General questions

I’ve been told trees are not allowed to grow above a certain height. Is this true?

There is no legislation relating to the height of trees. Fear of large trees is usually perceived, not actual: statistically trees are very safe. The Health and Safety Executive state that “the risk of being struck and killed by a tree or branch falling is extremely low (in the order of one in 10 million for those trees in or adjacent to areas of high public use).

So, it is unlikely that you will be hurt by a tree just because it is tall. Trees have evolved over millennia to thrive and survive in all types of adverse conditions. They are bio-mechanically equipped by nature to cope with wind loading. The tree should move and flex with the wind. Seeing it moving does not mean an increased likelihood of failure. It is important though, that owners of large trees near any potential target, arrange for periodic inspections by suitably qualified arborists, and that any necessary maintenance is arranged accordingly.

Of course, no-one can predict how any structure, natural or man-made, will behave in extremes of weather, but this is as true of your chimney stack as it is of a tree. This underlines the importance of having a competent arborist assess the tree(s) for any reasonably foreseeable hazards or defects.

My Insurance Company / Estate Agent / Solicitor wants to know how tall the tree is and how far away it is from my house. It’s a Council tree. Can you tell me?

Sadly, we don’t have the resources to prioritise this type of request. There are many apps available that will help assess the general height of trees and others that will help measure distance from your property if you are unable to use a measuring tape (perhaps there is a road in the way which could make measuring the distance unsafe for you). There are also some good apps for identifying the trees which may also be of use.

There is no legal or scientific basis for insurance companies to penalise customers with surcharges or increased premiums because of a nearby tree – so long as it is being reasonably managed and periodically assessed by a competent arborist.

There is a tree on land next to my house and I don’t want it there so I’m going to cut it down. What will happen if I’m found out?

Unauthorised cutting back, pruning, “lopping’, “topping”, or removal of a tree on privately held land, or land held by the Council is illegal and could result in legal prosecution. Charges of unlawful trespass or criminal damage may be applied – resulting in significant fines and legal fees.

Parties responsible for such action may also be in breach of planning laws, and in breach of Felling License regulations. Felling of trees in a sizeable quantity requires prior possession of a Felling License, administered by Natural Resources Wales.

Failure to provide proof of a Felling License when required may result in prosecution and very sizeable fines.

The roots from a (council/private) tree are damaging garden wall / growing under my house. Can I just cut them off?

Tree roots do not exert enough pressure to dislodge the modern footings of a house or other heavily loaded structure. Occasionally they will affect lighter structures such as garden walls or conservatories, and when this happens there are often engineering solutions available, such as bridging the root with a lintel, that allow the tree and wall to co-exist.

Your first call should be to your house insurer, informing them that the property/wall is damaged. The insurance company will investigate and if the tree is found to be the cause of the damage, your insurer will notify the owner of the tree (council / private) and indicate what must be done to resolve the matter.

Residents have ‘common law’ rights to prune back encroaching roots (and branches) to the boundary of their property, but it is strongly advised to seek prior professional guidance from a reputable local tree surgery contractor, or an independent consulting arborist, before doing so. This is because the pruning of roots (and large branches) can potentially cause significant damage to the parent tree or cause that tree to become diseased or dangerous – especially if done by inexperienced or unprofessional contractors. Parties responsible for such works could be found liable for any damage caused, or loss of amenity value, resulting from their actions.

We have prepared a list of suitably qualified Arboricultural Consultants and local tree surgeons. Alternatively, email to request a copy.  You can also search for professional help from consultants on the Arboricultural Association website.

Click here for information on your 'common law' rights on the overhanging vegetation.

My neighbour has a large tree on the boundary with my garden. It’s started to be a problem. Can I force them to manage it or take it down?

Garden trees are often near the edges of a property and on the boundaries. You will need to find out from your deeds/solicitor which boundaries belong to which house. If the tree trunk is growing entirely in the neighbour’s ground the tree will belong to them even if the hedge is your responsibility. The Land Registry provides further guidance about boundaries.

Click here for information on your 'common law' rights on the overhanging vegetation.

If the tree straddles the boundary then it is likely that you and your neighbour jointly own the tree. Your best approach is to discuss the matter with your neighbour in an amicable way to come to an agreement about managing the tree and any issues you may have with it. If you own the tree jointly then you will need to obtain the neighbour’s consent before undertaking or commissioning work to the tree.

If you believe that the tree is dangerous, (for example, it may have split or dead branches or fungal fruiting bodies) then write to the tree owner as soon as possible politely expressing any concerns you have and asking them to have the tree checked by a suitably qualified and professionally insured consulting arborist, and to have any necessary remedial work undertaken if appropriate.

We have prepared a list of suitably qualified Arboricultural Consultants and local tree surgeons. Alternatively, email to request a copy.  You can also search for professional help from consultants on the Arboricultural Association website.

If you still can’t reach a satisfactory conclusion then it may be helpful to ask a third party who is known to both of you to mediate before relationships break down completely. As a last resort it may be possible to obtain a court injunction requiring the owner to deal with the tree – you would need to discuss this with a solicitor.

The council will not become involved with this type of issue as it is a private matter even if you think it is dangerous. You should seek professional legal help from a solicitor.

If, however, the tree(s) in question are within range of an adjacent highway or lawful public access, then the Council will assess any direct and foreseeable threat to the highway or that public access and process any necessary enforcement action accordingly.

If the issue relates to a row of evergreen trees please refer to our high hedges section for details. High hedge issues are dealt with by environmental health and not the parks department.

My neighbour's tree is overhanging into my private property: how do I get it cut back?

You can ask the tree owner to prune it back to the boundary, but you should note they are not obliged to do so.

Click here for information on your 'common law' rights on the overhanging vegetation

There is a tree overhanging and obstructing the public highway; what can I do to get it pruned?

Overhanging trees and/or other vegetation from private property onto the public highway are dealt with by our Highways Inspectors enforcing the Highways Act 1980.  Please report issues to Highways Customer Care. 

How do I find out the ownership of trees that concern me or my property?

For a small charge (currently £3 for the plan and £3 for the title - October 2020) you can find out from the Land Registry whether the land is registered and to whom the land is registered (if it has a registered owner) 

Visit the Land Registry website where you can search for a property by address or browse the map.

Ivy is growing up the trunk of my tree and I think it is going to kill it. Do I need to remove it?

Ivy is not parasitic and does not kill trees. The main problem associated with ivy is that it can significantly increase the 'sail effect' and weight on deciduous trees in winter making them more prone to storm damage. Another problem is that ivy can hide defects in the trunk and main branches of a tree.

Ivy is important ecologically. It flowers late in the year offering one of the last sources of food for insects before winter. The fruit develops during the winter and is ripe in early spring when there is a shortage of food for birds and mammals. Due to its evergreen nature ivy also provides good winter cover. Ivy will probably need controlling if it extends high into the crown of a tree and is growing along the lateral branches.

Ivy is usually controlled by cutting and removing sections of the ivy stems at the base of the tree. If ivy has become rampant it may indicate that the tree is unhealthy.  We recommend you seek advice from an independent arboricultural professional.

We have prepared a list of independent arboricultural professionals. Alternatively, email to request a copy.  You can also search for professional help from consultants on the Arboricultural Association website.

My tree has a fungus growing on it. Does this make the tree unsafe?

There are many types of fungi that affect trees.  The significance of the fungus can vary from tree species to species. Some fungus can cause tree failure whilst others have little effect on the tree. Removing the fruiting body of the fungus will not remedy the problem, as this is just the reproductive part; the main body of the fungus may be contained inside the tree. We recommend you seek advice from an independent arboricultural professional.

We have prepared a list of independent arboricultural professionals. Alternatively, email to request a copy.  You can also search for professional help from consultants on the Arboricultural Association website.

Where can I find out about Ash dieback?

Please visit our Ash dieback page (under construction as of October 2020)

Tree roots are blocking my drains. What can I do?

Tree roots are opportunistic and if a pipe is faulty, or poorly sealed, the joints may leak water into the surrounding soil and attract the roots towards them. Modern techniques mean that many pipes can be lined to make them work efficiently again. The opportunistic roots will be pruned off but there may be no need to remove the tree. You should call your house insurer, informing them that the drains are damaged and for guidance about how to proceed.

There is a tree on the bank outside and its leaning. Should I be worried?

Trees that are leaning can cause concern, but not all leaning trees are dangerous. For example, Oaks have strong wood fibres and the ability to grow additional wood where they need it to keep the tree in the most upright position. They can grow with a lean away from other trees or away from structures without breaking, forming an “established lean”. Often trees grow at an angle when on the edge of a woodland, or stand of trees, so that they can get the most sunlight available on the edge.

If trees are leaning over a highway or path, please think about the following before contacting the council. (Please note that if the tree is privately owned and leaning over adjacent private land the council will not become involved – please discuss with the tree owner rather than the council.)

How long has it been leaning? Has this been a sudden change or has it been like this for years? Has there been excavation under the canopy spread - perhaps from recent building work? Was there a road traffic accident? Is it a recently planted young tree? Has the ground been washed away from the roots or a land slip?

Please report trees that have a lifted root plate as the roots on these trees are broken and can decay as a result of breakage. You may see that the ground has shifted and perhaps broken roots are showing. Structural support of the trunk has gone, and the tree will need to be inspected and remedial action taken. 

Please report trees with vertical cracks in the trunk or main branches as this can be a sign of weakness inside. Wood with cracks is more prone to failure than sound wood.

Contact Highways Customer Care to report this problem and include photographs so that we can make an initial assessment.

A council/private tree is tangled with overhead wires – what should I do?

If the overhead wires are electricity cables, then contact Western Power Distribution. They will be able to assess the problem and undertake any necessary pruning work. You do not need to report this to the council. The poles often have a yellow triangular sign stating, “Danger of Death”.

If the overhead wires are phone lines and they are damaged or unsafe, then contact BT Openreach. Their website provides a handy guide to identifying if the poles belong to Openreach.

There’s a tree fallen into the river. Who deals with that?

You do not need to tell the council. Rather, you need to inform Natural Resources Wales. It is important for them to know about this as a fallen tree could lead to flooding.