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Tree Work and the Law

There is a large body of legislation that refers to trees. There is legislation that not only protects them from harm, but also the species that inhabit trees, and people who live, work or play near them.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and The Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999 Contain provisions for protecting trees with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and for trees within Conservation Areas. Before felling or carrying out works to protected trees, permission must be sought from (for TPOs), or notification of intent must be given to (for trees in Conservation Areas), Exmoor National Park Authority.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended by The Countryside Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 Include protection for wildlife habitats, particularly for nesting birds and bat roosts, which often apply to trees. It is an offence to disturb animals protected by the acts.

Habitat Regulations 1994 Further reinforce the protection for European Protected Species (including all Bats, Dormice and Otters), and highlight the need for tree owners to identify and protect these species, by making it no longer acceptable to claim that it was not known that they were present before work started.

The Highways Act 1980 and Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 Give local authorities discretionary powers to deal with trees in private ownerships that are felt to be endangering the highway or other neighbouring land that can be accessed by the public.

Section 3 (1) The Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 places duties upon employers and the self employed to ensure that they take reasonable care to prevent exposure to risks to the health and safety of people not under their employment.

Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and 1984 Places a duty of care upon the occupier to ensure that visitors to their land, both invited and un-invited, are not exposed to risks. This means that reasonable steps must be taken to highlight and address risks of which the owner is aware.