Trees may become dangerous due to a singular event such as a storm, flood or vehicular damage in an accident, resulting in part, or all, of the tree presenting a danger to the public. Alternatively, a tree may reach a dangerous state by ongoing decay or disease, or may have grown in such a way as to be structurally unsound.
The difference between an imminent danger and a perceived danger must be drawn. An imminently dangerous tree is in a dangerous condition at the present time. For example, a large broken hanging branch or severed roots allowing an entire tree to rock at soil level. In addition, some trees may become dangerous through time because of an ongoing problem.
However, a perceived danger is the “dangerous” often used to describe a tall tree or one close to a building. Here the tree is not in a dangerous condition, but is perceived to be dangerous because of its existence.
It must be stressed therefore that, except in the most obvious cases, such as a broken branch hanging over a road, that only a qualified arboriculturist should be consulted to determine whether a tree is dangerous.
The Council will undertake any pruning or felling work necessary to make an imminently dangerous tree situated on Council land safe.
Justification: The first priority in an assessment of a tree is public safety.
Implementation: The Council will continue to provide a 24 hour, 365 day emergency out of hours service to ensure that all trees owned or maintained by the Council, or affecting Council land or property, are assessed and made safe as and when necessary.
The Council will, where appropriate, use its available powers to make safe imminently dangerous trees that are situated on land not owned by the Council.
Justification: The Council is empowered, under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and the Highways Act 1980, to seek to make safe dangerous trees in the interests of public safety.
Implementation: The Council will serve notice on owners of dangerous trees to make them safe by pruning works or felling as appropriate, using the powers given in the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and Highways Act 1980. Should a tree owner fail to undertake the work within the specified time, the Council will seek to carry out tree work and charge the owner of the tree accordingly.
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