Tree officer and tree surgeons

The council employs a tree officer to maintain and manage its tree stock and deal with planning enquiries.  This page contains information about the work we do as well as advice for any tree related issues. The Council also employs a qualified three man team of Tree Surgeons whose main purpose is to make dangerous trees on public and housing land safe. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Council consider pruning back trees to reduce overhang for whatever reason at the request of residents. The council's Tree Policy can be found here: Tree Policy.pdf[pdf] 475KB


Ash Dieback Disease

Currently we have had one confirmed case of Ash Dieback disease in the Arun District. Fortunately this case was a newly planted tree in Bersted, which was quickly identified with the disease and subsequently destroyed. All trees on our sites are inspected regularly and we will be keeping a close eye on all these trees over the coming months.


Duty of care

It is the responsibility of Arun District Council to ensure its trees are regularly inspected. Medium aged trees which grow within falling distance of highway or property are inspected regularly. The Council carry out a systematic tree inspection and where some are tagged and logged to form part of an inventory covering all parishes across the district.


Tree Preservation Orders

Please see our TPO page for further information.


Selecting a tree surgeon 

A Tree Surgeon, sometimes described as an Arboriculturist, Arborist or Arboricultural Contractor, will undertake tree work to a specification. However, it is essential to establish whether your trees are protected by law e.g. covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or are in a Conservation Area. This can be done by contacting the Planning Department on 01903 737711 or by asking your contractor to provide documentary proof that the tree(s) are not protected.

Contractors may say they are members of a trade association - check the validity of any such claim. The Arboricultural Association, which produces a list of approved contractors, can be contacted on 01242 522152.  

Get at least three written quotes and be aware that the lowest quote may not be the best one.  It is also advisable to indicate to the contractor when you would like the work to be carried out. Remember that quotes only remain valid for a specific amount of time. Please let the contractors know your decision be it acceptance or refusal.

All work should conform to British Standard BS3998:2010 Tree Work Recommendations.

The contractor should provide proof of at least £2 million Public Liability Insurance.

Reputable contractors will be happy to answer all of your questions, as they have got nothing to hide.

Once you have selected your contractor, ensure that the work to be carried out for the agreed sum is received in writing.


Frequently asked questions

Who is responsible for looking after trees?

The owner of the land that the trees grow on is responsible for the tree. Therefore, if the Council owns the land that the tree grows on, the Council is responsible for the maintenance of the tree. If the Council does not own the land, please contact the legal owner.

Can I cut back branches that overhang into my garden?

Usually, yes. Under common law you have the right to prune back to the boundary any overhanging branches as long as you do not trespass over the boundary in any way and the pruning work would not be to the detriment of the tree. However, you should inform the owner of the tree that you will be doing this and technically you should offer the clippings back, but your neighbour is not obliged to accept them. Always check that the tree is not protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or that you are not in a Conservation Area before cutting back a tree. If it is protected in any way, you will need to apply for permission from the Council. (This also applies to Council owned trees).

Can the Council help remove or cut back trees from my garden?

If you are a Housing Association tenant a request should be made through your Housing Association Office. No assistance can be given to private home owners / tenants.

Will the Council remove or cut back a tree which is growing near my garden?

Each case is looked at individually. Urgent matters, such as a dangerous tree will be given high priorirty. A decision on less urgent matters will be given within 10 days. Usually, the Council will not remove or cut back a tree if it is not dangerous or causing any damage to property. Shade, leaves, blossom, pollen or seed distribution are not normally reasons to remove or cut back a tree.

Do I need planning permission to plant trees?

No, you do not need to apply for planning permission in order to plant trees. However, consider your neighbours, the size of the tree at maturity and ensure that you are not planting in the vicinity of buildings where growing trees could damage foundations.

Do I need permission from the Council before I cut down or prune trees?

In most cases the Council's permission is not required. However, you should check if the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or you are in a Conservation area.

Does a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) only cover individual trees?

No, A TPO can cover not only individual trees but also groups of trees and woodland.

A tree is growing close to my house and I’m concerned the tree roots are damaging my drains, what should I do?

Talk to your neighbour; establish the extent of damage, if any. Failed pipe joints can be a means for roots to enter pipes and eventually this may lead to pipe failure or blockage. Small roots can be pruned. If necessary contact house insurers.

A tree is growing close to my house and I’m concerned the tree roots are damaging my foundations, what should I do?

Most foundations are able to withstand tree roots. Tree roots will not penetrate concrete. Seek the advice of a qualified structural engineer.

I am thinking of having a satellite dish installed, the signal maybe obstructed by a Council owned tree, what should I do?

There is no legal right to a satellite signal. A dish should not be installed if there is a poor signal, or likely to be in the future. An alternative location should be found. Seek the advice of a qualified engineer.


Further information

If you have any concerns about a tree at one of our parks or open spaces please Tel: 01903 737951 or email  

If you have a query about a tree on a verge (between the road and the pavement) it is probably owned by West Sussex County Council, who can be contacted on Tel:01243 777100.  

If you would like to find out if a tree has a preservation order you need to contact the planning department on Tel: 01903 737711.