Frequently asked questions - trees and hedgerows

Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning trees and hedgerows


How do I find out if a tree is protected?

Contact Doncaster Council giving details of the tree(s) and their location. Copies of Tree Preservation Orders are available for inspection at the Planning Department's offices during office hours. Before you purchase a property your solicitor should make a land charges search, which should reveal the existence of a Tree Preservation Order or whether your property is in a Conservation Area. Make sure you ask your solicitor if any trees are protected.

Am I allowed to cut back a protected tree?

In general, it is a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, wilfully damage or destroy or uproot a protected tree without Doncaster Council's consent. Anyone proposing to carry out any work on a protected tree is strongly advised to discuss the proposal with the Council or a reputable arboricultural contractor first or to give five days' written notice before carrying out the work, except in an absolute emergency. This is in your interests - you could be prosecuted if you carry out the work but cannot prove that it was essential or did not require consent. Further details are available on how to get consent to work on a protected tree and what are exempt from the need for consent. The Council's Trees and Hedgerows Officers are also able to offer free advice on tree management for owners or people affected by protected trees.

A tree near my garden blocks light to my garden/property can it be removed?

If the tree is in healthy condition then no. There is generally no right to light where trees are concerned. There are certain circumstances when a right can be claimed which is outlined in the council’s Green Infrastructure Strategy (see below).

Does the council’s tree team carry out work in private homeowners' gardens?

At this time, we don’t carry out general tree maintenance work in private gardens. Under emergency conditions when the tree is a danger to the public highway or the public in general we would, but the tree owner would be charged for this service.

Does the council’s tree team prune trees for TV/Satellite reception?

All other avenues must have been exhausted by the property owner such as relocating of aerials/dishes etc. before pruning would be considered, and only then would pruning which is not detrimental to the tree be considered.

Would the council cut down a tree because it drops leaves, blossom, nuts or berries in my garden?

No, leaf fall along with the aforementioned items are natural occurrences and classed as a seasonal nuisance, not a reason for trees to be removed.

I think that a tree is damaging my property, what can I do?

A very common concern for home owners is potential structural damage caused by nearby trees. Direct damage (e.g. branches hitting a property) can often be resolved by targeted pruning - please refer to the "Am I allowed to cut back a protected tree?" section above. There has been a lot of concern about the effect of tree roots on foundations in recent years (indirect damage; subsidence), however, much of this is unsubstantiated. This type of damage requires the presence of a shrinkable soil and in the vast majority of cases in Doncaster Borough trees and the built environment exist in harmony. However, if you believe that your property may be suffering damage as a result of a tree you are best advised to consult a building surveyor or an arboricultural consultant. There will usually be evidence of damage such as deformation or cracking of walls, uneven surface levels or blocked drains. If this is the case, you should notify your building insurer, who may initiate further investigations and negotiate with your neighbour and their insurer. Provided that prompt action is taken to investigate and deal with the cause, the property will re-stabilise with a need for only minor cosmetic repairs. It is also important to confirm that a causal link exists between the tree and damage to a property in order to be satisfied that removal of the tree is the most expedient means of remedying the problem. Trees are often implicated in damage to drainage systems because a drain is blocked by a mass of roots. However, tree roots rarely damage or enter sound drainage systems. Where roots are able to enter a drainage system they will proliferate and their presence is usually an indication of an underlying fault. In most cases drains can be repaired or replaced and the removal of the tree will not be required. You should also inform the Council if the implicated tree is protected or stands on land that is maintained by the Council.

How do I report a tree in the grounds of a school which neighbours my property?

You need to report this issue directly to the school as they manage and are responsible for their own site. Many schools now have private contractors carrying out work for them, not the council.

There is a tree, bush or hedgerow encroaching a public footpath from a private garden - can the tree team cut this back?

You need to report this to the Highways Network team so they can send an enforcement letter to the land owner. The council’s tree team will only carry out work under instruction form Highways if the land owner refuses to rectify the encroachment.

I want to cut an existing hedge, which may have nesting birds. When can I do this?

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is against the law to disturb nesting birds. You are advised to avoid carrying out work during the period of nesting, usually between 1 March and 30 September. If you feel that the work must be done during the nesting season you are advised to employ an ecologist to survey the hedge and advise on the presence of nests.

I think that a tree on neighbouring land is dangerous, what can I do?

Determining whether a tree is dangerous is not always a straightforward matter. For example, a branch dropping from a tree or bark 'sloughing off' the stem is not evidence in itself that a tree is dangerous. Similarly, just because a tree is tall or has not been pruned recently, does not mean that it is unsafe. If you know the owner of the tree, ask them about it. The owner of the tree is responsible for its condition and any damage that it may cause, whether it is protected or not. If no action is taken or you don't know who the owner is then write to Doncaster Council at Trees - Built and Natural Environment, Planning, Civic Office, Waterdale, Doncaster, DN1 3BU requesting an inspection. Please identify the tree clearly and say why you think it is dangerous. The Council has a legal duty under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to investigate a written request from an adjoining landowner. If an inspection of the tree determines that it is an imminent danger to person or property the Council has the powers to require the owner to make it safe. During periods of inclement weather the Council operate a 24 hour emergency service to inspect trees and carry out emergency works that are considered necessary. During office hours contact Customer Services to report dangerous trees. Out of office hours please contact the Council's 24 hour Emergency Number (01302) 341628.

What is the maximum height that my neighbour can grow trees in his/her garden?

In general, there is no specific limit to the height that a tree is allowed to grow. However, where evergreen trees or shrubs are grown as a hedge, which is more than 2m in height, part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (High Hedges) may apply. Further information including and advice sheet is available on the Hedges page. It is recommended that you follow the High Hedges advice and talk to your neighbour about the problem. The council should only be involved as a last resort. Further information can be found on the Communities and Local Government website.

Does the council’s tree team inspect footpath issues caused by trees?

No, when tree roots are lifting public footpaths these need to be inspected by a Highways inspector or if it’s a St Leger Homes pathway the enquiry needs to be made to St Leger Homes repairs section. The tree team would inspect at the request of either of these inspectors and determine if root pruning is required for the path to be repaired.

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Last updated: 03 May 2022 17:55:16