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The Surrey Highways Arboricultural service

What we do to keep footpaths clear

We deliver an annual maintenance programme to trim back growth from tree bases. This happens between the end of April and the beginning of September. We have a list which guides our contractors to maintain the same trees every year.

What we do to keep roads clear

We prioritise pruning of large trees on bus routes to remove tree branches that could damage high sided vehicles.

What we do to keep the highway safe

Our team of tree specialists check our trees on a regular basis. Their checks include:

  • locating and recording structural defects
  • checking for disease
  • assessing the tree condition.

The tree is given a risk score. The score relates to the number of users of the road and reflects the potential risk of harm or damage that could be done if the tree snaps or falls over. Our aim is to keep as many trees as possible. We do not remove trees with minor defects. Only trees that are dead, diseased or may collapse are removed. We may remove parts of a tree that have died or where there is a very high risk of falling branches causing harm or damage due to their size.

What we do to avoid accidental damage

We carry out work on trees where there is a history of accidental damage to property and claims against the council. We do this every two or four years to a set programme. The programme is aimed at minimising risk to property.

If I report a tree I think is dangerous, what will you do?

We will record the details provided and assess if work is needed.

If the problem is included in our list of areas we are unlikely to resolve or will not do we will contact you and close down the enquiry.

If we feel that the tree is dangerous. Our Local Highway officers (LHO) who have a basic understanding of trees, but are not specialists will make a visual inspection of the tree. The LHO will be looking for any obvious hazards. You may then be told that we will not take any further action. Or the assessment is passed onto our Highways Arboricultural team for a specialist assessment.

The tree will be assigned a risk prioritisation, will be monitored or be scheduled for tree works.

When we say no to your request

We often say no to service requests. Instead we focus on the trees that our specialists say are most likely to cause harm or damage.

We are unlikely to take action if tree branches are:

  • shading property or solar panels
  • touching telephone lines
  • touching power lines
  • touching buildings
  • overhanging boundaries
  • bearing fruits, seeds or leaves before or after they leave the tree
  • encouraging roosting birds
  • interfering with digital or terrestrial signals
  • requiring the removal of twigs and small bits of deadwood.

We do not remove trees:

  • with minor defects
  • that have grown to their natural height
  • which are depositing debris such as leaves, seeds or honey dew
  • that are inconvenient for planning applications
  • that are too close to property for insurance companies unless subject to claim mitigation.

Can I cut a council tree?

We may allow work to be carried out that does not significantly affect natural shape and form of the tree. This work must be done by us or by an approved trained specialist.

The council will only allow trained specialist to climb trees to carry out works. If a tree overhangs your boundary you may cut small branches that can be reached from the ground, back to your boundary. For safety reasons, if branches are higher than this or if they are wider than your wrist, a specialist will be required to avoid risk of injury or damage. A list of suitable tree specialists can be found on the Arboricultural Association website or by viewing our Approved Traders Scheme.