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Trees and the Law – Tree Owners/Managers Responsibility for Trees

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There are a number statute laws in the UK, the content of which confers duties upon those responsible for trees:

Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and 1984 there is a duty upon the occupier to take such care as is reasonable to ensure that visitors to their land shall be safe from harm.

Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places general duties upon employers and the self-employed to those other than employees. It was under this section of the Act that Birmingham City Council were successfully prosecuted by the health and Safety Executive in 2002 following the failure of an ash tree, resulting in the death of three people in two cars.

The Highways Act 1980 gives local authorities discretionary powers to deal with trees in private ownerships that are deemed to be endangering the highway or other neighbouring land that can be accessed by members of the public.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Habitat Regulations 1994 places legal obligations on the protection of wildlife and habitats. Species commonly affected by tree works include bats and badgers, and in some areas of the UK, dormice, red squirrels and pine martens.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999 contain provisions for protecting trees with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and Conservation Areas. For any works on trees subject to TPOs, consent must be gained from the local authority, and for trees in a Conservation Area, a notice of intent (section 211 notice) to carry out work must be submitted to the local authority before works commence.

Bagshaw Ecology Ltd provide expert advice regarding trees and the law. Based in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, we regularly carry out tree safety surveys in the surrounding area, including Bradford, Halifax, Greater Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds.

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