Tree management and Arboriculture team
South Somerset District Council manages approximately 350 hectares of public open spaces including nature reserves, country parks, historical sites, sports and recreation ground sites, car parks and amenity spaces. All is freely accessible by the public and is often in close proximity to major roads and property boundaries.
The Council recognises that the risk from falling trees is low however, as a large, public landowner, it has specific legal and moral responsibilities to visitors to its land and members of the public in general.
The Council has implemented a Tree Risk Management Policy since 2019 and has subjected this to a review. This document has been revised in accordance with current industry best practise, court precedent and statute.
The Council will continue to proactively manage its tree resource while balancing this against the benefits that they provide:
Trees on private property
We are unable to carry out work on private land. Issues with trees in your own or a neighbour's garden are the responsibility of the landowner.
In common law, you can cut back overhanging branches to the boundary of your property. For any trees owned by the Council, we will usually have no objection to you carrying out this type of work or hiring someone to do so. If you need access to council land to carry out the work, you need to get prior written permission.
You also need to make sure that:
- the tree is not in a conservation area
- the tree does not have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
- any work to the tree is not detrimental to its health or stability
- any cut branches are disposed of in a responsible manner
- no unauthorised damage to Council property occurs.
Find out more information about looking to hire an arborist, advice, and directories.
Apply for permission to work on trees
If a tree within a Conservation Area is also subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), normal Tree Preservation Order application procedures will apply.
The same form is used to apply for works to trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order, as well as those trees located within a Conservation Area. You might note on the form that slightly more detail is required to validate a TPO application.
Please be specific about the extent of the proposed work when you make your tree work application. We often have to send forms back because they do not contain enough detail.
Please note that if the Council objects to a Conservation Area Notification, and we are not able to negotiate a withdrawal or amendment, we may decide to serve a Tree Preservation Order. We recommend providing a daytime telephone number and an e-mail address so we can discuss your proposal if necessary.
You may prefer to instruct your appointed Arborist (or ‘Tree Surgeon’) to submit the form on your behalf. Find helpful consumer-guidance relating to employing an Arborist.
The Planning Portal contains guidance on how to complete the tree works form.
Report a dangerous tree or a tree that needs maintenance (or fallen tree)
We are responsible for trees on Council land, including some trees on certain highways and verges. We have a legal duty of care to inspect and manage these trees. We do this through a tree risk programme.
If you have concerns over the health of a tree on Council land, please report it online using the link below.
Tree Risk Management Policy
Our tree risk programme identifies any hazards that could cause harm. For example, a trunk, branch, or crown of a tree that might fail structurally, collapse and fall onto a person or building. Our highly trained arboriculture team will regularly monitor any hazardous trees.
The Council has a finite resource for maintaining its trees. We have a legal and moral obligation to manage trees to prevent and reduce risk and so it follows that resources shall be targeted in this manner. In order to provide straightforward advice as to what works may be carried out and under what timescales, the “Traffic Light Trees” table may be used.
Trees on public property
Our highly trained arboriculture team will regularly monitor any hazardous trees.
However, they are not able to prune or remove trees:
- that are privately owned
- because they are overhanging
- to control their size or height
- in order to improve light
- to improve a view
- because of falling leaves, sap, seeds or debris
- to improve television or satellite reception