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Tree ownership

Many trees grow on the edge of the highway and mark its boundary with private property. It is the responsibility of the adjacent landowner or occupier to properly maintain them.

Not all trees in public areas are highway trees and many of these will be managed and maintained by the local district/borough council.

Highway trees

Highway trees usually have their roots planted in verge areas between sections of pavement or are planted alongside road and pavements within the public highway. Their trunks are normally a clear distance away from private property.

Our resource for highway tree maintenance is limited and our priority is to address issues with trees which are dead, diseased or dying. Any other type of highway tree maintenance is subject to resource availability and in the event that ad hoc maintenance works are raised these will be given a category of priority in accordance with our routine and reactive inspection regime.

Tree preservation orders (TPOs)

Some highway trees are protected by a Tree Preservation Order which is an order made by local planning authorities in England to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. A Tree Preservation Order prohibits the following without the local plannning authority's written consent:

  • cutting down
  • topping
  • lopping
  • uprooting
  • wilful damage
  • wilful destruction

If consent is given, it can be subject to conditions which have to be followed.

In the Secretary of State’s view, cutting roots is also a prohibited activity and requires the authority’s consent.

In Staffordshire, the district/borough councils are responsible for making Tree Preservation Orders on trees/groups of trees, including public highway trees, and as such they hold records of which trees are protected in this way.

More information


  Concerned about a tree on the highway?

If you remain concerned about a tree on the highway, please use Report It to tell us the problem and in the majority of cases our tree officers will be able to provide suitable advice.

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