In Edenthorpe in South Yorkshire, the Tesco Store has some tall trees on its border with neighbouring houses.
No problem, you might think. A bit of privacy for the home owners.
Except that the trees have grown so large that the roots have invaded the gardens, sucking all the water from them so nothing else will grow, and now threaten to damage the properties too.
Mr Bell, one of the affected homeowners, has been complaining to Tesco about the thick roots creating havoc with his lawn for almost two years, and yet they haven’t done anything about it. Promises have recently been made that the trees will be removed, but Mr Bell has heard these platitudes before.
It took 18 years for a Tyneside pensioner to get a tree removed from outside her front door – it was blocking the light, and made it difficult to open windows, due to flies being attracted to it. Even then, it was only the fact that it was cracking the pavement which made the council fell it, removing the stump later.
A conservatory had to be rebuilt in Gloucestershire after an oak tree’s roots undermined it. Once the tree responsible was identified, the council put a Tree Preservation Order on it, meaning that the damage continued. The owners of the home with the conservatory have managed to get compensation from the council, but only after 6 years’ battle in the courts.
In Derbyshire, a couple have received a payout from their council after a Tree Preservation Order was placed on a cedar tree whose roots caused subsidence to their property. It took ten years though, and the owner of the tree had had no objection to the felling of the tree in the first place.
A lime tree in Northampton has been causing drains to block and sewage to back up for two years now, but despite the property being a council house, no action has been taken. It seems it’s down to incorrect paperwork, and passing the blame to Northamptonshire County Council.
Although you are at liberty to cut any branches off of a neighbour’s tree if it overhangs your garden, you must – by law – give the cuttings back to the owner, if he wants them. Similarly, if the roots encroach your property, you may cut them and hand them back. HOWEVER, if the tree dies as a result, you are liable to compensate the owners for the loss of the tree.
With Tree Preservation Orders, the subject tree cannot even be pruned without consent, let alone cut down or removed. Appeals against a TPO have to be made to the Secretary of State. See this government site for information: http://planningguidance.communities.gov.uk/blog/guidance/tree-preservation-orders/
Read our other article about trees in this newsletter here.