The council is responsible for managing a significant number of trees within the district of Somerset West and Taunton. The overall tree population is over 16,000 in car parks, parks and open spaces and housing amenity land.
The Council employs a team of tree surgeons who maintain the trees across land that is owned or maintained by the Council.
The Council has direct responsibility for the maintenance of trees:
Somerset West and Taunton Council will carry out tree maintenance works for the following reasons only:
To reduce the risk of injury to persons.
- To reduce the risk of damage to property
- To comply with legal obligations
Tree works will not be undertaken in the following circumstances:
- To improve television or internet signals.
- To improve the view.
- To improve the energy capture of solar panels.
- To allow more light into properties.
- Due to nuisance caused by honeydew from aphids.
- Due to nuisance caused by falling leaves, flowers or fruit.
- Due to nuisance caused by pollen.
- Due to nuisance caused by bird droppings.
- Due to minor structural damage to non-supporting structures such as garden walls.
- Fears that they may damage a building or surface with no evidence
- Where tree roots have entered sewers (tree roots rarely break drains, but roots will enter a broken or damaged drain).
- To allow the construction of a new access or driveway to a property.
- If the tree is considered by a member of the public to be too big or too tall.
- Because they overhang an adjacent property, where no damage is likely (each case is assessed individually)
There are also times that the Council will not undertake tree work, such as whilst the tree or hedge is in flower, and during bird nesting season.
We also reserve the right to treat each tree request on a case-by-case basis. It may be that there are other circumstances in which influence our decision to maintain or fell a tree that are conflicting with this policy.
Sometimes trees have to be felled due to safety, age or health. As part of the Council’s commitment to tackling climate change and supporting nature recovery, we have committed to planting three trees for every one we fell. We also leave felled trees and stumps in situ wherever possible to create vital habitat for insects.
Report a problem
To report a non urgent problem with a council owned tree, fill out the online tree, hedge or grass problem form.
To report a tree related emergency out of hours, call us on 0300 304 8000.
Common Law Right
If trees are causing a nuisance to you or your property, you have a Common Law right to prune them. If you wish to undertake pruning works to a tree under Common Law, we ask that you take note of the following advice.
- You can only remove parts of a tree from the point where they cross the boundary of your property. You have no legal right to cut or remove any part of a tree that does not overhang your property.
- You are strongly advised to consult an Arboricultural Association Registered tree surgeon for guidance on how best to prune back encroaching trees, unless the works are small enough to do with hand secateurs or similar.
- Before you consider doing any works to a tree(s) you should find out if it is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or whether the tree is in a Conservation Area. If the trees are protected, you will need to gain permission for the works from the Council. To find out if a tree has a Tree Preservation Order and how to apply for permission to work on a tree, please visit our trees and tree protection page or call the Council on 0300 304 8000.
- You are advised to discuss with your neighbour your intention to prune overhanging branches. If you use your Common Law right to prune back a council owned tree, we ask that you dispose of the branches yourself in a responsible way and do not leave them on Council land.
Trees owned by us are inspected for safety on a cycle between 1 and 5 years according to the level of public use in the area surrounding the tree. Inspections are carried out to check whether any works are needed to make our trees safe.
If our trees pose a danger to people or properties we will carry out emergency works within 24 hours of the report, or necessary works within 18 months, if the tree does not pose an imminent danger.
A tree poses imminent danger if it:
- has snapped or blown over
- is rocking at its base / roots are damaged
- is uprooted but held by another tree or building
- has a large branch that has broken off or is hanging off the tree
- is blocking the road, footpath or access to a property
- has fallen onto a house or car
Signs which may mean that a tree needs attention but does not require an emergency response include a tree which:
- is dead
- is dying / has a few leaves in summer or is dying back in the crown
- has bark that is loose and falling off
- has mushrooms or fungi growing on or near the tree
- has old splits and cracks in the trunk or large branches
- has smaller branches falling from the tree