Tree Cutting

Cutting Down Trees

What is the law against cutting trees?

The existing laws that are set in the UK against cutting trees are actually a complex affair. Timber has been an issue for many years in history, and there have been many laws passed to protect our forests from being removed by humans. It can sometimes be difficult to tell what is legal and what isn’t legal, so I will try to address some of the most important questions that seem to concern people with the tree legislation act.

If you’re contemplating cutting down a tree, we have most of the answers available to your tree related questions. Whether it’s about safety issues and precautions or current preservation laws that may be bothering you and preventing a decision being made on what course of action is best for you, your land and trees. Our guide has all the information that we have gathered from our own experiences and expert sources. Hopefully this will stop individuals from reaching for their chainsaws and axes before they get facts and information beforehand.

Do I need permission to cut down a tree or remove branches on my property in the UK?

If you are fortunate to be the proprietor of your own house, then there is no need to gain permission to cut down a tree that is situated entirely in your garden, unless it’s marked down as protected through a tree Preservation Order or sited in a conservation area. If you are in a rental property and plan on cutting down trees on the rental property’s land, then you must ask permission from the landlord or agent before going ahead with any type of cutting or felling trees. You can request and ask neighbours for assistance with any branches or tree limbs which may overhang onto neighbouring land or garden areas, but they are still officially owned by the proprietor of that land where the trunk of the tree sits. So as mentioned it’s always the owners responsibility if anything does happen to go wrong! such as, unexpected damage caused by branches falling on neighbouring garages, outbuildings or sheds for example.

Tree Felling Licence

Any trees that are required to be felled outside of a private garden boundary, you may need to apply for permission from the relevant local council government department. If this does apply for your particular situation and the trees amount to around 5 cubic metres in volume, then it’s usually an offence without consent by them first. Licences for thinning work in woodlands will most probably come with some conditions attached, such as replanting or maintaining them afterwards with some sort of timescale in place. For the act of just thinning woodland areas, this will most likely not have restocking conditions applied to the licence. Make the relevant enquiries to see if you do need any permission to be granted from any local authority beforehand as to avoid any trouble or prosecution. Also please consider any future impact this could cause to the local wildlife. The removal and felling of trees while bird nesting is in season could well be stressful for any birdlife and other surrounding wild animals, so please make amends that you take this into account and proceed during the winter months when possible.

​Is there a legal height for Neighbours trees?

Are your neighbours trees blocking sunlight? Are you looking for some advice on what to do about the height of your neighbour’s trees? There are a few things that you can do. The first thing is to talk with them about it. They may not even realise that they have high tree branches and be more than happy to take care of the problem. If they don’t know, then ask them how tall their trees were when they bought the house or moved in. You could also check your local by-laws for information on legal height limits for trees, as this varies depending on where you live and local council rules and regulations.

What can I do if my Neighbours trees are too high and they are ignoring my complaints?

If you are unfortunate in not reaching an agreement with your awkward neighbours, then go ahead and contact your local authorities and explain the situation, as they may be able to help you with the dispute. There also could be the possibility that trimming or cutting the trees might not actually sort out the problem, and if this is the case, it would be advisable to consult with your local tree surgeon or arborist for further advice on how to best deal with problem tree branches on neighbouring land boundaries. You can contact our local tree surgeons at Glasgow Trees for further assistance anytime for a FREE consultation and friendly advice.

What do you do with dead Ash or Oak trees?

Any dead and lifeless oak or ash tree can look unpleasant in the garden or land on any property, so most customers we find want them removed and taken away as soon as possible as they can also pose health and safety concerns such as unstable branches and brittle limbs. Best way forward is to call a professional tree surgeon to handle this situation quickly before any mishaps arise. They will remove the tree safely as they have the necessary equipment to cater for the job from start to finish.They have the experience and knowledge and training to cut down the tree branch by branch (known in the trade as sectional dismantling) without damaging the surrounding property or placing people in danger. When these large trees are felled in one go, if the space allows, they could fall anywhere if not directed properly by professional tree removal techniques (due to the tree’s mass and overall weight) A residential homeowner or business will struggle and place themselves and nearby people in great danger if they attempt this kind of work. Also these large dead oak and ash trees tend to be brittle with bark that is loose around the trunk and could collapse quickly when put under pressure at any time, adding to this dangerous pursuit. This is the reason why they should always be taken down by professional tree surgeons like Glasgow Trees.

Is it illegal to cut down trees when birds are nesting?

The nesting season for our birdlife is an important time for our feathered friends to find a safe haven to raise and protect their young. Nesting time is around March through to July each year. It is good practice to check the hedges and trees around this time to avoid disturbing these precious wildlife environments. Although it may seem impractical at this uncertain time, there can be ways around to allow tree work if completed with due care and attention as to not to harm any of the birds nesting nearby.

Best to keep safety at the top of your list when running these delicate tree cutting schemes and projects that are close to wildlife habitats. This will ensure the protection of our UK nesting birds. Just before we carry out any work in a nesting season we always thoroughly complete a full visual check and survey to 100% make sure we cause no stress or destruction of the birds natural habitat.


Tree Preservation Orders are made by local councils to protect specific trees or woodlands from deliberate damage and destruction. These orders could include felling, lopping, topping, uprooting or other deliberate damage. A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) can be placed on any tree, including hedgerow trees but not hedgerows themselves. It can also apply to woodland, although this is less common. TPOs are most commonly used for urban and semi-urban settings, and for trees with high amenity or nature conservation value.

The law is very strict when it comes to trees. If you want to carry out any management work, or simply remove a tree for your own personal use-there are restrictions and consequences that must be followed in order not break the rules! For example, if you live near TPO land–you will need permission from the local planning authority (usually this means going through your council). The punishment can vary depending on what kind of offence was actually committed but could involve fines between £2,500 -£20K.

Cutting back my neighbours Trees that are encroaching my property

If your neighbour ‘s trees are overhanging onto your property, then asking polite permission to cut back the branches can be as easy as just talking to them nicely. If they give you the go ahead and are more than happy with this arrangement, then all that needs to be done is the act of trimming away the branches and foliage to suit your requirements. However the law is clear that you must offer the cuttings back to your neighbour before disposal. So please ask first before transporting to your local refuse centre or tip.

The same law applies to trimming your hedges, be polite and don’t throw the trimmings back over the fence, as this could be deemed as fly-tipping, “I know this sounds crazy but it’s true) Just ask your next door neighbour and offer the trimmings back before disposal or you could always leave them by their garden wall or fence for them to get rid of or pick up later on.
Another area this applies to is fruit on trees, if the fruit on the branches is overhanging onto your side of your property, the law still applies and the fruit belongs to your neighbour. So You are actually stealing if you collect the fruits for yourself without a neighbours’ permission.

​​Telephone:     0141-483-7485

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Glasgow Trees, keeping it local.


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