Tree maintenance and management

Salford has an adopted tree management policy. The aim of the policy is to set the approach for Salford City Council in the management of trees located on city council owned land.

It acts as a source of information and reference regarding trees on city council land and as a framework for any decisions with regard to the management of trees.

You can view sections of the policy below or download the whole policy at the bottom of the page.

Tree Preservation Orders

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are made by the council to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity for example if their removal would have a significant negative impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public. Many trees in Salford are protected by TPOs.

Apply for a Tree Preservation Order

Where a TPO is made under Section 198 of the Town and County Planning Act 1990 and related regulations, the tree or group of trees are identified on a location plan. Copies of the order are served on the owners of land upon which the trees are growing, and on the owner occupiers of affected and joining properties. 

Details of which trees are protected can be obtained online at; salford.gov.uk/planning-building-and-regeneration/tree-preservation-orders/

A TPO prohibits the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees without the written consent of the council. In certain circumstances, such consent may be given for example in order to accommodate development, but the TPO enables the council to set conditions and control these actions which can include  a requirement to obtain new planting to replace trees which are removed. You can formally request the Council’s consent to works being undertaken on trees protected by a TPO online at salford.gov.uk/planning-building-and-regeneration/tree-preservation-orders/.

There is no fee involved.

If a tree is cut down, topped, lopped, uprooted, wilfully destroyed or wilfully damaged this is in contravention of a TPO, the responsible person may be criminally prosecuted and liable to pay a substantial fine.

Trees in conservation areas

Trees in conservation areas are also subject to special provisions found in Sections 211-214 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Anyone wishing to fell, prune, or uproot trees in a conservation area, must give the council six weeks' written notice.

Work must not be carried out within that notice period without the consent of the council, otherwise penalties may be incurred. The regulations made under this act give certain exemptions from this requirement, and applicants are advised to contact the development control section if they are in any doubts about the procedures.

Notice of intention to carry out work to trees in conservation areas must be given in writing and include an accurate plan indicating the location of the tree(s). Details can be found on our Tree Preservation Orders page.

Please note that if a tree or group of trees are situated in a conservation area but are also protected by a Tree Preservation Order then the order must be adhered to and any requests to carry out works on such trees must be made via the process detailed above.

You can find out more about conservation areas in Salford online.

Trees on private land

The council is not under any duty, statutorily or at common law, to take any action in relation to trees on private land.

A tree belongs to the owner of the land on which it is growing, and under Common Law, that person is responsible for managing and maintaining it so that it is not a nuisance to anyone else. Similarly, the Occupiers Liability Acts of 1957 and 1984 place a duty of care on occupiers to ensure that their trees are not a danger to others.

However, under Section 23 of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 the council has powers to deal with dangerous trees. If the council considers that a tree is in such condition that there is imminent danger of it causing damage to persons or property it can:

  • serve notice on the owner or occupier of the land in which the tree is situated requiring them to take such steps as to make the tree safe within a reasonable time period.
  • in certain circumstances the council also has the power to take such steps on private land as it thinks appropriate to make a tree safe. The council may recover the costs incurred in doing so from the owner or occupier of the land.

It is expected that private parties will take care of their own responsibilities and therefore 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. The act does not impose a duty to take such action, however the council will intervene according to the powers given in the act if an owner of such trees fails to act in a reasonable timescale.

If a privately owned tree is causing an obstruction to a road or other highway, powers exist under the Highways Act 1980, to require the owner of the tree to remove the obstruction. If they do not, the council may serve notice under Section 154 of the Highway Act 1980 to undertake this work and recover all associated costs from the owner.

Tree planting

The city councils policy to tree planting and management is covered in the council’s trees and development supplementary planning document.

The city council will encourage the conservation of trees and woodland by:

  • supporting the retention of trees, woods, copses and hedgerows
  • identifying and taking opportunities to increase the area of trees and woodland within the city
  • a replacement policy for replanting trees
  • ensure that new tree planting is designed to contribute to wildlife conservation, recreation and education opportunities as well as landscape quality
  • making Tree Preservation Orders or entering into management agreements as necessary

Bird droppings

Policy: we will not prune of fell a council tree to remove or reduce bird droppings from trees, or remove bird droppings from private land.

Customer advice:

  • 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.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Blossom

Policy: we will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce blossom from trees or remove fallen blossom from private land.

Customer advice:

  • Tree blossom is a natural occurrence and cannot be avoided by pruning.

Carriageway obstruction due to trees

Policy: we will undertake work to a tree in council ownership to maintain a minimum of 5.2 metre height clearance over the carriageway and 2.1 metre height clearance over the footway where reasonably feasible (associated with a street, road or highway).

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend the site within 24 hours 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.
  • If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

  • If a privately owned tree is causing an obstruction to a road, powers exist under the Highways Act to make the owner of the tree remove the obstruction. If they do not, the council will do this work and recharge the owner.
  • Highway trees are inspected on a five yearly cycle.

Crime and anti-social behaviour

Policy: 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.

How we will respond:

  • If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

  • Where a tree is associated with criminal activity and / or anti social behaviour, steps to reduce the problem will typically require the coordination of a number of agencies including the police. Felling or pruning the tree is not always the answer to the problem. The council’s tree and grounds maintenance programme tries to improve these areas by making the local environment cleaner, greener and safer.
  • You are not allowed to remove wood (or other parts of the tree) from parks or green spaces without consent. If you see someone who may be removing wood without consent or they are using a chainsaw please call the call centre on 0161 793 2500 or report it online.

Danger to highway (private tree)

Policy: If a tree in private ownership is shown to be a danger to the highway 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 Highways Act 1980. If it is necessary that the council undertakes this work then the council may serve notice under Section 154 of the Highway Act 1980 and recover all associated costs.

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend site within 24 hours 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.
  • If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Danger to land other than highway (private tree)

Policy: If a tree in private ownership is shown to be a danger to a non-highway land 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 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.

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend site within 24 hours. However, in extreme weather conditions where there are several emergencies this timescale may increase.
  • 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 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

  • The local authority has powers to require a private individual to make safe a tree via Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1976. It is expected that private parties will take care of their own responsibilities and therefore 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 act if an owner of such trees fails to act in a reasonable timescale.

Dangerous trees requiring immediate action

Policy: If a council owned tree is found to be 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 24 hours. However, in extreme weather conditions where there are several emergencies this timescale may increase.

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend site within 24 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.
  • If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

  • If a tree poses an immediate and present danger it will be made safe within 24 hours. If the level of risk is lower the tree will inspected and a timetable for works will be identified.

Signs to look for which may mean that a tree is in such condition to warrant immediate attention include a tree which is:

  • Snapped or blown over
  • Rocking at its base – roots are damaged
  • Uprooted but held up by another tree or building
  • Large branch has broken off or is hanging off the tree
  • Blocking road, footpath, access to property
  • Fallen on a house or car

Signs to look out for which mean that a tree is a risk to people or property but the risk does not require an emergency response include a tree which is:

  • Dead
  • Dying – few leaves in summer or dieback in the crown
  • Bark is loose and falling off
  • Mushrooms or fungi growing on or near the tree
  • Old splits and cracks in the trunk or large branches
  • Smaller branches falling from the tree

Dangerous tree requiring action but not imminent danger

Policy: 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.

How we will respond:

  • If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate the relevant timescale to complete the work.

Customer advice:

  • If a tree posses an immediate and present danger it will be made safe within 24 hours. If the level of risk is lower the tree will inspected and timetable for works will be identified.

Signs to look for which may mean that a tree is in such condition to warrant immediate attention include a tree which is:

  • Snapped or blown over
  • Rocking at its base – roots are damaged
  • Uprooted but held up by another tree or building
  • Large branch has broken off or is hanging off the tree
  • Blocking road, footpath, access to property
  • Fallen or house or car

Signs to look out for which mean that a tree is a risk to people or property but the risk does not require an emergency response include a tree which is:

  • Dead
  • Dying – few leaves in summer or dieback in the crown
  • Bark is loose and falling off
  • Mushrooms or fungi growing on or near the tree
  • Old splits and cracks in the trunk or large branches
  • Smaller branches falling from the tree

Trees can be made safe by pruning or felling and we will employ the most cost effective approach.

Drains

Policy: we will not prune, or fell or cut the roots of a council owned tree to prevent roots entering a drain that is already broken or damaged.

Customer advice:

  • Tree roots typically invade the drains that are already broken or damaged. Tree roots found in a drain are usually symptomatic or an underlying problems requiring repair of the broken pipe. If you are concerned about the condition of your drains then you are advised to contact your water and sewerage company.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Fruit/berries/nuts

Policy: we 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, where fallen fruit is leading to significant anti-social behaviour problems we will consider measures to reduce the problem including phased removal and replacement with alternative species if reasonable.

Customer advice:

  • Fruit trees have many benefits for wildlife with spring blossom and autumn fruit as well as providing colour and diversity to our urban landscape. If fruit is a problem on a highway making it slippery or where anti–social behaviour is a reported problem we may consider phased removal and replacement.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

High hedges

Policy: please see our guidance about high hedges.

Leaves

Policy: we will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce leaf fall or remove fallen leaves from private property.

Customer advice:

  • The loss of leaves in 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.
  • For roads, leaves on the highway, extra teams work in the autumn to clear fallen leaves as appropriate.
  • Leaves on hard surfaces in parks may be removed if they cause a problem with slippery surfaces.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Light

Policy: we will not prune or fell a council owned tree to improve natural light in a property.

Customer advice:

  • In law there is no general right to light. Any right to light would need to be established via a specific grant or by prescription, which can only occur where the right has been enjoyed uninterrupted 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 to light as will leave the premised adequately lit for all purposes for which they may reasonably expect to be used.
  • If natural light is being blocked by the growth of a hedge than action may be taken to reduce the problem under the High Hedges Act, Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act, 2003. Please see our high hedges page.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Nuisance to third party – private tree

Policy: the council has no authority to intervene in a dispute between neighbours. However, if the problem is due to a high hedge please see our high hedges page.

Customer advice:

  • You may benefit from approaching a mediation service if you cannot amicably resolve a dispute between yourself and your neighbour.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Pavement – obstruction

Policy: we will undertake work to a council owned tree to maintain a minimum (where reasonably feasible) 2.1 metre height clearance over a footpath associated with a street, road or highway. Any works necessary to prevent an obstruction in the width of a footpath associated with the highway due to the presence of a council owned tree would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend site within 24 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.
  • If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

  • If a privately owned tree is causing an obstruction to a footpath, powers exist under the Highways Act to make the owner of the tree remove the obstruction. If they do not, the council will do this work and recharge the owner.

Road – sight lines obstructions

Policy: we will undertake work to a tree in council ownership to maintain clear sight lines (where reasonably feasible) at junctions and access points (associated with a street, road or highway).

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend site within 24 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.
  • If not an emergency situation a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

  • Standards for visibility vary accordingly to the class and speed limit in force.
  • If a privately owned tree is causing an obstruction to the visibility at the road junction (sight line) powers exist under the Highways Act to make the owner prune the tree remove the obstruction. If they do not, the council may serve notice under Section 154 of the Highways Act 1980 to undertake the work and recover all associated costs.
  • The shoots that grow from the base of some trees in council ownership such as lime trees are removed as part of our tree maintenance programme. This is usually done once a year for trees growing in the street. There is not a programme to remove basal shoots from trees in parks and green spaces unless these interfere with footpaths or the visibility at road junctions. Otherwise removal of basal shoots for aesthetic reasons is done as and when funds allow.

Sap

Policy: we will not prune of fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce honeydew or other sticky residues from trees.

Customer advice:

  • Honeydew is caused by aphids feeding on the tree which excrete a sugary sap. Often the honeydew is colonised by a mould, which causes it to go black.
  • Unfortunately 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 aphids thereby potentially increasing the problem. 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.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Solar panels

Policy: we will not prune or fell a council owned tree to prevent interference with solar panels.

Customer advice:

  • It may be that your installation company will be able to suggest an alternative solution to the problem.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Street light – obstruction

Policy: when possible the council will undertake work to trees in council ownership to ensure that trees do not unduly obstruct the street light.

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend site within 24 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 15 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

  • If a privately owned tree is causing an obstruction to street lights powers exist under the Highways Act to make the owner of the tree remove the obstruction. If they do not, the council may serve notice under Section 154 of the Highways Act 1980 to undertake the work and recharge all associated costs from the owner.

Subsidence damage to property (tree related)

Policy: if you have concerns about tree related damage being caused to buildings and other structures as a result of the action of council owned trees you should contact your insurance advisor for advice.

If you wish to make a formal claim for damages or to formally notify us of your concerns about future damage please download and complete the damage claim form.

Telephone wire

Policy: we will not prune or fell a council owned tree to remove or reduce interference with telephone wires.

Customer advice:

  • It maybe that your telephone service provider may be able to suggest an alternative solution to the problem.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Trip hazard

Policy: we will undertake measures to make safe an unacceptable trip hazard in the street, road or highway caused by the growth of a council owned tree.

How we will respond:

  • In an emergency situation our tree contractor will be instructed to attend the site within 24 hours 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.
  • If not an emergency situation, a site inspection will be undertaken within 15 working days of receipt of an enquiry and the customer will be notified of what, if any action is considered appropriate and the timescales for completion.

Customer advice:

The main purpose of highway maintenance is to maintain the adopted highway network for the safe use of pedestrians and motorists. Find out more about highway maintenance.

  • If a privately owned tree is causing an obstruction to pavement leading to a trip hazard, powers exist under the Highways Act 1980 to make the owner of the tree remove the obstruction. If they do not, the council may serve notice under Section 154 and do this work and recharge the owner.
  • There are a number of ways the council can repair a pavement damaged by tree roots. Removal of the tree is usually the last resort (accepting that in some cases where the tree is low value or easily replaced removal may be the most appropriate solution).

Tree overhanging property

Policy: we will not prune or fell a tree in council ownership to alleviate the nuisance of overhanging branches.

Customer advice:

  • The nuisance caused by overhanging branches will be considered as part of our general tree-work programme.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Tree and TV / satellite reception

Policy: we will not prune or fell a council owned tree to prevent interference with TV satellite installation/ reception.

Customer advice:

  • It may be that your satellite or TV provider will be able to suggest an alternative solution to the problem, for example relocation the aerial / dish or means to boost the signal.
  • If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with encroaching trees.

Common Law Right

A Common Law right exists which enables a person to remove (abate) the nuisance associated with trees encroaching onto their property. The below information is general guidance in relation to this area however you should seek your own independent advice if you wish to exercise this Common Law right.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • To find out if trees are owned by the council, contact Salford City Council’s customer contact centre on 0161 793 2500.
  • Before you consider doing any works to a tree or trees you should find out if they are protected by a Tree Preservation Order or are within a conservation area. To find out if trees are protected and guidance on how to apply for works if they are protected see our Tree Preservation Orders page.
  • You are advised to discuss with your neighbour your intension to prune encroaching branches. Legally you do not own the encroaching branches and you should offer these to your neighbour. However it is usually best to consider disposing the arising yourself. If the encroachment relates to a council owned tree, any cuttings must be disposed of appropriately and not returned to city council land.

Report a tree issue

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This page was last updated on 19 August 2019

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