/ Problems with trees and local councils

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j0ntyg on 09 Jul 2013
I have a problem with a tree that dominates my house. The shade it gives blocks the light to the back of our house. In early summer the pollen coats our back windows to the extent that I had to get a window cleaner to use his pressure hose to remove it. He made a point of describing how bad it was. The tree blocks light to the house which means often having the living room lights on in the morning. In fact the shade given by the tree onto my house can be seen on Google Earth. The shade encourages moss to grow on the paths and roof, which is why I was cleaning some of it off over this sunny weekend when I could see the hills from my house. The birds scratch through the roof moss looking for insects. That moss then rolls down into the gutters. When the tree sheds it's leaves they block my gutters and drains. Because the roof gutters and down pipes are difficult to access even with ladders, this costs me 50 to 73 annually.
The tree is owned by the County Council (I checked with the Land Registry) but they said that I should deal with my local District Council as it is within their area. That is passing the buck. So I got our local District Council's tree advisor to look at the tree, which has no tree preservation (TPO) order on it, but is in a conservation area. He was absolutely against having the tree felled and suggested that he would have a TPO put on the tree. It's only a sycamore and is the only tree within the land it is on. The reasons that the District Council give on their website for allocating the area conservation status does not mention any tree. I spoke to a local councillor who said that I have a problem but no chance of having permission from the local council for the tree to be felled. He directed me to the County Councillor for our area. So I am thinking of contacting her and saying that if I don't get felling permission I will bill the County Council for the expenses that their tree's existence gives me, the only person in the county who will have to pay because of the damn tree. I even offered to the District Council to pay for the felling and for a replacement tree to be planted.
Advice would be welcome.
Party Boy on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg:
Was the tree there when you moved in? When I bought my house in Sheffield I thought it was fantastic that it backed onto a park and had woodland at the bottom of the garden. It wasn't so fantastic in Autumn when I had to collect about 500 bags of leaves - ended up buying a garden vac/blower.

Not very helpful I know.......

do you know anyone with a chainsaw?
malk - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg: how big and and how far from your house? could pollarding be the way to go?
Milesy - on 09 Jul 2013
You don't have a right to light as they say, much like you don't have the right to a view either. My old house was near a large forest and for large parts of the year and day the sun was always blocked out. Couldnt exactly fell a forest could I lol?
JoshOvki on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg:

Cut it down, see if anyone notices.
Smithy_P - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg: drill a whole in it where no one will notice and funnel some weedkiller into it. Will start to kill it from the inside out, approach the council and tell them it is rotten and then they will have to fell it for you.
Dave Perry - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg:
Any part of the tree overhanging your property you can remove. However, whatever you cut off legally still belongs to the owners of the tree!!
malk - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Smithy_P:
> (In reply to j0ntyg) drill a whole in it where no one will notice and funnel some weedkiller into it. Will start to kill it from the inside out, approach the council and tell them it is rotten and then they will have to fell it for you.

nice. would you recommend this method with other trees as well?
MG - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Dave Perry: Probably not with a TPO though??
The New NickB - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to MG:

The tree doesn't have a TPO.
malk - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Dave Perry: is it possible to get the local council to remove branches from a large tree (owned by them presumably) overhanging your property? (in my dad's case it's a large oak overhanging the conservatory mostly. the drips from the leaves are annoying but some danger from falling branches)
davegardner - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to MG:
The conservation area status affords it the same protection as if it had a TPO, the right of abatement will only apply if the tree is causing an actionable nuisance which doesn't sound as if it is the case here.
MG - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to The New NickB: How do you know? The OP suggests it might by now.
MG - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to davegardner: Ah - you sound like you know what you are talking about!
deanstonmassif on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg:

As DaveyGardner has already posted, ANY TREE of diameter within a Conservation Area is subject to protection (provided it exceeds 75mm at 1.50m height and is not a fruit tree). To do work on the tree you apply to your local planning authority, using a form normally available on their website and describing what work you wish to undertake (in your case, branch removal at your boundary line); they then have 6 weeks to consider your application. They can then either put a Tree Preservation Order on the tree, or leave you to get on with the work.

Assuming that they are not bothered enough to slap a TPO on the tree, once the 6 weeks have elapsed you can then do the work. In terms of land ownership law, you can remove branches that overhang your property back to the property boundary but no further. In theory the cut branches do not belong to you and you should offer them back to the owner on whose land the tree is growing - although in practice a municipal landowner would not wish to have them back.

In any dealings with trees of any size in a settlement and particularly a Conservation Area, be aware that many people will hold a view of this tree that is opposite to your view. Trees add significantly to character, wildlife value and property values. So, any precipitate action you might take would be likely to irritate a lot of people and lead you into hot water (it is an offence to wilfully damage or destroy a tree in a conservation area without having first notified the planning authority). I would not recommend the use of a drill and herbicide - it is not your tree to destroy and so you would be committing criminal damage as well as an offence under the Conservation Area legislation.

From what you say it is a problem you have had for a while now, and so a 6 week rocess should not cause you too much concern.

Lastly, once you reach the point where you have consent and are to do the work, consider using a member of the Arboricultural Association to do the work properly and with the right insurances in place. Any old fool can buy a chainsaw and then drop a branch on something they shouldn't (or prune the tree in such a way that it makes your situation worse in the longer term).

Excuse the lecture. It's just the facts!

Nick
Davvers - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg:

If it's TPO'd or has the same protection as a TPO don't touch it as the fines can be huge (including prison).

Google Julian Forbes Laird Agricultural Consultancy, they know trees and the law very well.
j0ntyg on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Party Boy:
If I got someone to chainsaw it, it would be obvious that I instigated that. Yes it was here when we moved in.
Dave Perry - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to malk:
Councils just may do that especially if they think a tree growing on their property, but encroaching over someone else's' property may well cause damage - and thus a potential sue for damages.

Strictly speaking you should not allow 'your' property to encroach onto - or over someone else's, but of course if a tree or hedge does, you can't physically force the owner to stop or prevent the encroachment, other than by going to court - which is probably why the law allows you to remove someone else's property (the tree in this case) that encroaches on your land.

So I'd ask the council first. It may well save you the time and effort of doing it yourself.
j0ntyg on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to malk:
> (In reply to j0ntyg) how big and and how far from your house? could pollarding be the way to go?

It has been decided by all parties, two tree experts, the local council bloke and myself, that pollarding is not viable for several reasons. It is halfway between my house's boundary and the County Council land.
pwo - on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to j0ntyg: good grief. It's a Sycamore for goodness sake. Ring bark it (roof rats do it all the time). Provided no one observes what species did it then it will be impossible to lay any blame. As a matter of course Council arborists will always protect any tree regardless of value or nuisance caused provided it does not represent any appreciable hazard.
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mockerkin on 09 Jul 2013
In reply to Smithy_P:
> (In reply to j0ntyg) drill a whole in it where no one will notice and funnel some weedkiller into it. Will start to kill it from the inside out, approach the council and tell them it is rotten and then they will have to fell it for you.

>> I have been told that if you drill holes down by the roots, then put milk into the drilled holes, then termites will kill the tree. Yesterday someone who had a similar problem said that you put mercury into the drilled holes. But either way they will know that I did it.




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