Tree management strategy - Legal responsibilities

Statutory obligations dictate how the council should manage trees that are within areas of its control. There responsibilities are principally set out in the follow statutes:

  • Highways Act 1980
  • Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and 1984
  • Environment Act 2021

Additionally, the New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 govern how tree works should be implemented.

The Town and Country Planning Act places responsibilities on the council to assess the impact of tree loss within the borough; where the loss is likely to have a significant impact upon the local and wider landscape the Local Authority must consider protecting trees through the Tree Preservation Order (TPO) process.

Furthermore, there is a range of case and common law precedent that should be observed in policy and practice. For example, according to the tort of nuisance and negligence, the tree owner owes a duty of care in common to all who might be injured if a tree fails, either in whole or in part. Consequently, the Local Authority must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which cause a foreseeable risk of injury to people or property.