7.0) Other policies
7.1) Replacing and planting trees
The district council aim to replace every tree felled to ensure that over the years the district retains its tree stock for future generations, although it is recognised that it is not always practical or prudent to replace a tree in the same location or with the same species that was previously planted.
The council will work proactively to manage or facilitate replacement tree planting, which may include but not be limited to, working with the community and friends groups, considering new planting schemes, community woodlands and by encouraging funding from new developments for tree planting through working with the Planning Department.
7.1.1) Planting - guiding principles
The council follows the Right Tree – Right Place policy. The principle of this approach is that by considering the constraints and opportunities of the proposed planting site and the desired features (or not) of the proposed trees, a list of best-matched tree species is generated.
The Right Place, Right Tree approach will tend to 'filter out' trees that would otherwise grow too big for a certain location. The alternative would be to plant large type trees but commit to regular pruning to restrict their size (high cost).
Tree diseases new to the UK increasingly threaten us as climate change takes effect. We can increase the resilience of our trees by keeping them as healthy and hence as robust as possible. In addition, we can increase the variety of new trees planted and to this end the council has adopted a 'rule of thumb' guide to plant no more than 10% of same tree species, no more than 20% from the same genus and no more than 30% from the same family. Clearly other factors should be taken into account such as site character and design considerations and planting schemes favouring native trees will generally include a higher proportion of one type of tree.
Planting native trees is generally preferred especially if the intent is primarily to attract wildlife. But, non-native trees such as pines make a major contribution to the district, and in some locations, especially streets, exotics generally outperform native trees. Where native trees are selected the council will endeavour to purchase trees that are of local provenance.
The council will also need to consider which types of trees will themselves be able to cope with a changed climate which is projected to be a trend towards hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter and windier winters. There is still uncertainty about the degree and timing of such climate changes and as such more research is needed to determine which trees should be planted and when. The council is already selecting more drought resistant trees in some locations.
Subsidence is a complex interaction between the soil, building, climate and vegetation that occurs on highly shrinkable clay soils when the soil supporting all or part of a building dries out and consequently shrinks, resulting in part of a building moving downwards. Trees lose water from the leaves through transpiration that is replenished by water taken from the soil by the roots. If the tree takes more water from the soil than is replaced by rainfall the soil will gradually dry out. Trees have a large root system and they can dry the soil to a greater depth, critically below the level of foundations. The amount of water trees can remove from the soil can vary between different species. This policy seeks to set out the council’s response to subsidence claims against its own trees. The opposite of subsidence is a process called ‘heave’ and this occurs as a shrinkable clay soil re-hydrates (becomes wet again) and begins to increase in volume exerting upward pressure. Heave can also cause damage to buildings and is just as undesirable as subsidence but occurs less frequently.
All claims regarding subsidence will be referred to the council’s insurer along with a brief report from the council’s arboricultural officer. The report will highlight if the tree is the responsibility of the council, the age, type, and condition of the trees and any other factors that may be of importance to the claim.
The insurers for the claimant or their consultants must provide evidence of ALL the following items before any works are carried out to council owned trees.
- Physical damage
- Presence of live roots of a suitable species
- Seasonal movement or variation of the damage during different seasons.
If the above evidence is provided, the council will adhere to the advice supplied by insurers with regard to what, if any, works are required to the trees. If evidence is insufficient any claim will be dismissed.
Subsidence damage to property (tree-related)
The council has in place active tree management systems to avoid damage being caused to buildings and other structures as a result of the action of council owned trees. We rigorously defend claims to identify bogus or false claims.
Our response rate to this tree-related enquiry:
a) Concerns about tree-related subsidence damage:
All concerns about tree-related subsidence damage involving a council owned tree will be acknowledged within 10 working days of receipt. In our response, we will advise that you should contact your insurance provider for advice. In addition, we will advise you that you should contact us again if you wish to make a formal claim for damages or to formally notify us of your concerns about future damage. We would then respond as detailed below:
b) Claims / notice of alleged tree-related subsidence damage:
All claims or notice of claims against the council relating to a council owned tree will be acknowledged within 10 working days of receipt. In our response, we will detail what evidence we require so that we may investigate your claim. We will follow the Joint Mitigation Protocol for dealing with alleged tree-related subsidence claims and the CAVAT (Capital Asset Valuation for Amenity Trees) methodology for assigning a value to a tree. If you believe that your property is suffering subsidence damage due to the action of trees in council ownership (or that you are concerned about potential damage) then we will respond by advising that you should contact your property insurer. You should discuss your concerns with your property insurer to agree an appropriate course of action. Should you, or those acting on your behalf, wish to make a claim for damages, or make formal representation of your concern about future damage, alleging that a council owned tree is causing (or may cause) subsidence damage to your property, then you should contact the council. Arun District Council will manage your claim / notice in accordance with the ' Joint Mitigation Protocol'. The Joint Mitigation Protocol details the management of alleged subsidence claims where trees are implicated as being the cause of building movement. The Joint Mitigation Protocol seeks to establish best practice in the processing and investigation of tree-induced building damage including agreed standards of evidence and working timescale. In response to your claim / notice we will write to you (or your representative) and detail the level of evidence required to process your claim. The level of evidence required will relate to the value of the tree (s) implicated in your claim. On receipt of your claim / notice we will advise you of the value of the tree in accordance with CAVAT.
7.3) Common law right
There exists a common law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with trees encroaching onto your property. The following advice is given if you wish to exercise your common law right with respect to encroaching trees:
a) You can only consider removing those parts of the tree from the point where they cross the boundary of your property. You have no legal right to cut or remove any part of a tree that does not overhang your property;
b) You are strongly advised to consult a professional tree surgeon for guidance on how best to prune back encroaching trees, unless the works are trivial meaning you could do the works with hand secateurs or similar;
c) Before you consider doing any works to a tree / trees you should find out if they are protected by a Tree Preservation Order or are within a conservation area. If the trees are protected, you will need to gain consent by making an application / give notice to the council. To find out if the trees are protected and guidance on how to apply for works if they are protected contact Arun District Council, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex, BN17 5LF.
d) You are advised to discuss with your neighbour your intention to prune encroaching branches. Legally you do not own the encroaching branches and you should offer these to your neighbour. But in all likelihood, you should consider disposing the arisings yourself.
7.4) Bird droppings
The council will not prune or fell a council tree to remove or reduce bird droppings, or remove bird droppings from private land.
Bird droppings may be a nuisance, but the problem is not considered a sufficient reason to prune or remove a tree. Nesting birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (and other related wildlife law). Warm soapy water will usually be sufficient to remove the bird droppings.
If someone wishes to exercise their common law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees – see the council’s policy 7.3 common law right
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce blossom or remove fallen blossom from private land.
Tree blossom usually heralds the start of spring. Blossom is a natural occurrence, which cannot be avoided by pruning. Depending on the need, paths through parks and green spaces will be swept of blossom as part of normal maintenance programme.
If someone wishes to exercise your common law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees - see the council’s policy 7.3 common law right.
7.6) Crime and anti-social behaviour
Where a council owned tree is associated with criminal activity and / or anti-social behaviour, measures to reduce the problem will be considered on a site-by-site basis.
Steps to reduce the problem will typically require the coordination of a number of agencies including the police. Requests from the police to maintain views for CCTV will be considered. Just pruning or felling a tree is not always the answer to the problem. Some research shows that areas with lots of trees actually help to make places safer. But, neglected spaces with overgrown trees and untidy areas can encourage criminal activity and / or anti-social behaviour. The council's tree and grounds maintenance work aims to improve the local environment.
7.7) Danger to land other than highway (private trees)
If a tree in private ownership is shown to be a danger it will be identified for work to make it reasonably safe. The landowner will be contacted and instructed to make the tree safe (under the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976). If it is necessary that the council undertake this work then the owner will be charged in full for the council's costs.
If an emergency situation a tree contractor will be instructed to attend site within 1 hour to make the situation safe. An emergency is defined as a tree that is in immediate danger of collapse or a tree that is causing an obstruction requiring urgent attention, or
If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 10 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate. The owner of the tree will be informed of what works they are responsible for to make the situation safe.
7.8) Dangerous trees requiring immediate action
It is expected that private parties will take care of their own responsibilities and hence the council should not be considered as the first point of contact in attempting to resolve concerns about the danger posed by trees in private ownership. However, the council will intervene according to the powers given in the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 if an owner of such trees fails to act in a reasonable timescale.
If a council owned tree is in such a condition that it poses a very high risk to people or property and is considered to be an emergency situation, instruction will be given to our tree contractor to make the tree safe within 1 hour. During out of hours, arrangements will be made for a contractor to attend as soon as reasonably practical.
An emergency is defined as a tree that is in immediate danger of collapse or a tree that is causing an obstruction requiring urgent attention, as outlined in Appendix 3.
7.9) Dangerous tree requiring action but not imminent danger
If a tree is identified as dangerous, but the risk to the public is not high then the tree will be made safe depending on the degree of risk identified at the time of inspection. Our standards are 'within 6-months if high risk', or 'within 18-months if medium risk'.
The council will not prune, fell or cut the roots of a council owned tree to prevent roots entering a drain that is already broken or damaged.
Tree roots typically invade drains that are already broken or damaged. Trees themselves will rarely break or damage the drain in the first place. Tree roots found in a drain are usually symptomatic of an underlying problem requiring repair of the broken pipe. In some circumstances tree roots can exert forces on drainage infrastructure. If you are concerned about the condition of your drains then you are advised to contact your water and sewerage company.
Open or culverted watercourses may require works to trees to ensure the free flow of water, where appropriate works should be minimised.
All new tree planting must consider the choice of species, water demand, soil conditions, planting distances and their relationship between roots and underground services.
7.11) Fruit / berries / nuts
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce the nuisance of fruit / berries or nuts, or remove such fallen fruit from private land. However, consideration will be given where fallen fruit is leading to a significant anti-social behaviour problems and risk from slips trips and falls, we will consider measures to reduce the problem including whether a phased removal and replacement with alternative species is reasonable.
Fruit trees such as apple, cherry and pear have the double benefit of spring blossom and autumn fruit. This makes fruit trees good for wildlife and a source of free food. But, there are some locations where fruit trees are less desirable, for example where soft fruit would make the pavement slippery or where anti-social behaviour could encourage fruit being thrown at houses or cars.
7.12) High hedges
Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 gives local authorities powers to deal with complaints about high hedges. Provided all other avenues for resolving their hedge dispute have been exhausted , people will be able to take their complaint about a neighbour’s evergreen hedge to their local authority - Arun District Council.
The role of the local authority is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner but to adjudicate on whether - in the words of the Act – “the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property”.
If they consider the circumstances justify it the local authority will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem, and when by.
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce leaf fall or remove fallen leaves from private property.
The loss of leaves from trees in the autumn is part of the natural cycle and cannot be avoided by pruning.
The maintenance of gutters is the responsibility of the landowner and the council is not obliged to remove leaves that may have fallen from council owned trees. Where gutters are regularly blocked by fallen leaves gutter guards may be fitted to provide a low maintenance solution.
In parks and green spaces paths or areas of hard standing are regularly cleared of fallen leaves, but leaves on grass / shrub beds are generally left until the majority of leaves have fallen before they are removed in accordance with the landscape contract.
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to improve natural light in a property.
In law there is no general right to light. Any right to light would need to be established via a specific grant (rare) or by prescription, which can only occur where the right has been enjoyed uninterruptedly for a minimum of 20-years. Following this, a legal right to light can only be enjoyed in relation to a specific opening (such as a window) in a building; there is no right to light in connection with open land, such as a garden.
Further, if these conditions are met then an owner of the building is 'entitled to such access of light as will leave his premises adequately lit for all purposes for which they may reasonably expect to be used. Further detailed information can be found here, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rights-to-light
If natural light is being blocked by the growth of a hedge then action may be taken to reduce the problem under the High Hedges Act, Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act, 2003.
7.15) Nuisance to third parties – private tree
The council has no authority to intervene in a dispute between neighbours. Unless the dispute is covered under the high hedges legislation
7.16) Personal medical complaint
We will not prune or fell a council owned tree where a request has been made to do so because of a personal medical condition.
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce the release of pollen.
7.18) Poisonous berries
The council have no general policy to remove trees bearing poisonous fruit / foliage (such as yew trees), however where it is claimed or known that unsupervised young children are likely to be exposed to poisonous berries or foliage, such cases will be investigated and appropriate action considered.
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce honeydew or other sticky residue from trees.
Honeydew is caused by greenfly (aphids) feeding on the tree, which excrete a sugary sap. Often the honeydew is colonised by a mould, which causes it to go black. There is little that can be done to remove the aphid which causes the problem and pruning the tree may only offer temporary relief and any re-growth is often more likely to be colonised by greenfly thereby potentially increasing the problem. Some trees, such as limes, are more prone to attack by greenfly and in some years greenfly are more common especially following a mild winter. Honeydew is a natural and seasonal problem. Where honeydew affects cars, warm soapy water will remove the substance, particularly if you wash the car as soon as possible.
7.20) Street light – obstruction
The council will undertake work to a tree in council ownership to ensure that trees do not unduly obstruct the streetlight.
When West Sussex County Council put in new street lighting or wishes to move a lighting column, consideration is made of the impact on existing trees. Similarly, when new trees are being planted, these are placed so they do not cause problems to existing streetlights.
7.21) Telephone wire
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce interference with telephone wires. Cases will be investigated and appropriate action considered
7.22) Tree next to a building site
The council is not required to prune or fell a council owned tree to allow your building works to proceed, whether planning consent was necessary or via permitted development.
7.23) Tree touching building
If a tree in council ownership is touching your property (dwelling house, boundary wall, garage etc.) we will take action to remove the nuisance.
In many cases the solution will be for the council to prune the tree, but in exceptional circumstances it may be more appropriate to fell the tree. If pruning is appropriate the council will endeavour to undertake works to stop the problem re-occurring within three-years.
7.24) Tree overhanging property
The council will not prune or fell a tree in council ownership to alleviate the nuisance of overhanging branches.
The nuisance caused by overhanging branches will be considered as part of our general tree-work programme.
If the property owner wishes to exercise their common law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees – see 7.3) common law right.
7.25) Tree too big / too tall
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree because it is considered to be 'too big' or 'too tall'.
A tree is not dangerous just because it may be considered too big for its surroundings. Other problems would need to be shown such as those described in Appendix 3 for the council to consider it to be dangerous.
7.26) Tree and TV / satellite reception
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to prevent interference with TV / satellite installation / reception.
If the TV / satellite owner wishes to exercise their common law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees - see 7.3) common law right.
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to improve the view from a private property as there is no legal right to a 'view'.
If the private property owner wishes to exercise their common law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees – see 7.3) common law right.
7.28) Wild animal / insect / pests
The council will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce incidence of perceived pests such as bees, wasps, or wild animals.
Bees are protected species and advice should be taken before considering their removal. You may be able to dispose of individual wasps using an aerosol insect-repellent spray. Ideally the whole wasps nest should be destroyed. This can be achieved with great caution but it is safer and recommended to use pest control experts.