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Tree management and maintenance

 

Trees are amongst the most important and significant features in the landscape and contribute to making Gateshead an environmentally attractive and healthy place to live. However, trees are living, growing organisms and like other plants they may from time to time require maintenance work. We're responsible for the management and maintenance of trees on our land.

Requests we can't respond to

Requests we can respond to 

Requests and complaints

If you need to report a problem with a tree situated on council land, please contact customer services on 0191 433 7000 or email customerservices@gateshead.gov.uk

Be sure to read our information below about what requests we can and can't respond to.  

 

Requests we can't respond to

Loss of Light

One of the most common complaints received in respect of trees, is that they block light from properties and shade gardens. The Council will not automatically fell or prune Council owned trees solely for the reason that they are allegedly reducing light levels into properties or are casting shade over gardens unless it is demonstrated that a severe restriction, in the opinion of the Arboricultural Officer, has resulted. This may include loss of sunlight in a garden where the property is surrounded by trees and very little sunlight enters the garden or trees that block light during day time hours, in living room areas which means having to use artificial light.

A person's tolerance of shade or their need for light is a subjective and personal matter and whilst some people prefer shade there are those that have a desire for sunlight. Many people are aware of the ancient and prescriptive right to light, but this only relates to loss of light over a considerable period of time in certain specific circumstances. Where trees are concerned there is ‘no right to light’. The tree owner is under no legal obligation to prune a tree for the benefit of a neighbour or complainant.

There are a variety of other potential nuisances associated with trees, most of which are minor or seasonal and considered to be social problems associated with living near trees.  Examples of such problems are:

Solar Panels

As the number of residential solar panel installations increase there is going to be a greater problem from over shadowing or shading from trees and other obstacles. Trees in particular may cause a problem as even partial shading on some solar arrays can potentially reduce their ability to generate electricity

The Council will not fell or prune Council owned trees solely for the reason that they are casting shadows over solar panels. See also ‘loss of light’ above.

Tree Debris

Problems regarding falling leaves, fruit or cones, is not a ‘legal nuisance’ and is classed as a natural process.

If the debris is causing a health and safety issue on a public road or path, please contact Customer Services on 0191 4337000 or email customerservices@gateshead.gov.uk, and they will refer your request to the relevant team. If the debris is not causing a health and safety issue and is on a public road or path, it will be dealt with as part of our routine planned maintenance.

Honeydew

Honeydew is a sticky substance that is produced by small insects that feed on the leaves of trees. Heavy infestations of these insects can create a lot of honeydew to fall on anything underneath or nearby the tree. There is no practical treatment to the tree to prevent this. Residents should consider what practical measures they could take include regular washing/cleaning of vehicles, garaging, covering the car or parking elsewhere.

Bird Fouling

Even when trees are pruned they are still inhabited by wildlife. Healthy and attractive trees are an asset to the environment and bird fouling is not sufficient justification for the tree to be pruned.

Satellite / TV reception

Interference appears to increase when trees are in leaf and in windy weather.  This is especially the case with regards to satellite reception, as it appears to be more sensitive to interference than analogue television reception.

In the vast majority of cases, interference can be reduced by the relocation of the aerial or by the use of “booster boxes”, which often improve the reception significantly and can be encouraged.  These options are far cheaper and less destructive than pruning or felling the tree.  Such alternative solutions should be encouraged.

The Council will not fell Council owned trees solely for the reason that they are causing interference with television and satellite reception. Pruning will only be considered if the required works is consistent with good arboricultural practice and will not unduly affect the amenity or the health of the tree.

Pollens and Allergies

All vegetation produces pollen as part of its life cycle. Everything from grass to trees can have an effect on allergy sufferers. As this is a natural process, it is not classed as a ‘legal nuisance’ and there is nothing the council can do to alleviate the symptoms and effects on residents.

Requests/Issues we can help with:

Potentially Hazardous Trees

The Council will endeavour to ensure all hazardous trees that pose a significant threat will either be felled, or where appropriate instigate remedial works so that the risk is reduced to an acceptable level. This may include trees that have fallen or are at risk of falling or have snapped branches as a result of storm damage etc.

If you see a tree on Council or public land that you feel is dangerous please call us on 0191 4337000 to let us know. We will inspect the tree as a matter of urgency and take the necessary action to remove the danger as quickly as we can

Trees affecting public access/highway safety

Where there is a risk to the public such as overhanging branches affecting the line of site for motorists or overhanging a public highway or pathway. The Council will also ensure that branches shall be reduced back where they are masking streetlights, road signs and other street furniture, so as to maintain vehicular and pedestrian safety on the highway. These issues can be reported by contacting Customer Services 0191 433 7000 or email customerservices@gateshead.gov.uk

Damage to Highway Surfaces

As trees grow expanding roots may damage the highways and footpaths. Gateshead Council regularly inspects and assesses roads and paths across the borough. Any safety defects are identified in these inspections and included in a programme for repair.

Damage can be reported by contacting Customer Services 0191 433 7000 or email customerservices@gateshead.gov.uk

Damage to Buildings

We can prune trees if their branches or roots are likely to affect the structure of a neighbouring building or property. Damage to buildings can be reported by contacting Customer Services 0191 433 7000 or email customerservices@gateshead.gov.uk

Tree pruning - Overhanging tree branches

We will assess any reports of overhanging tree branches or trees that need pruning. However we can usually only deal with trees that we consider to be a danger to people or property.

There is no requirement in law to prevent trees spreading over a boundary. However, whilst there is no obligation to prune trees, if branches or roots encroach on to neighbouring land they are legally regarded as a nuisance. Under the terms of this law the tree owner is not obliged to cut back the branches overhanging their neighbours garden. The onus is on the owner of the adjacent land concerned to action their legal right and 'abate the nuisance'

Where requests are made to prune trees that overhang a boundary each instance will be assessed on its merits. Generally, the council will undertake work to lessen tree encroachment, where the extent of that encroachment is considered significant in relation to the size and position of the trees. Where a tree's branches touch or are very close to a building, the work will take priority. Where overhang of the boundary is relatively minor or at considerable height, works may not be undertaken.

Suspected structural damage

If you believe trees on Council land are causing structural damage to your property, you should engage the services of a structural engineer and obtain a report to prove that it is the Council’s tree(s) which is/are causing structural damage to your property. If such a report is obtained and it concludes that it is the Council’s tree(s) which is/are causing the structural damage, then you need to send that report to the Council for consideration. We will consider the report and, if appropriate, carry out remedial work.