Council owned trees

Trees are of vital importance to the world for many reasons.

Amongst other things they screen eyesores, frame views and form landscapes. Trees have significant environmental value, produce a habitat for many species and help provide us with cleaner, filtered air, shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Advice is freely available on any aspect of maintenance of Council owned city trees, for example:

  • Street trees
  • Park trees
  • Open space trees
  • Trees in housing areas
  • Trees in Council house gardens (This does not include former Council housing sold under 'Right to Buy')
  • Woodland management

This involves work such as pruning, planting or felling of trees or woodlands that are owned by Aberdeen City Council. Also, the Council has a similar level of responsibility when managing the trees it owns to any private land owner or neighbour. In the first instance contact the call centre on 03000 200 292 for general advice. However, the City Council has guidelines for works relating to the trees it owns.

Work the Council will or will not do to Council owned trees

Work the Council will do on Council owned trees:

  • Remove dead, dying or dangerous trees
  • Remove trees within 2 metres from property (see notes relating to proximity to buildings)
  • Remove dangerous limbs
  • Remove limbs which are obscuring highway signs, traffic lights or lamp columns
  • Inspect and if necessary, repair trip hazard caused by Council owned trees
  • Inspect trees causing daylight obstruction to the South or South West of the property. Work may proceed after this inspection, an exception to this is in the case of established woodland predating the house construction
  • Thin groups of trees to improve form and condition of remaining trees

Work the Council will not do on Council owned trees:

  • Cut back branches overhanging private property. (The private property owner has the legal right to cut back these branches on a tree which is not subject to a Tree Protection Order)
  • 'Top' trees or remove branches to increase daylight or decrease height in relation to property (See note regarding South or South West trees above)
  • Remove branches or trees affecting views or interfering with TV reception
  • Remove branches or trees to prevent falling leaves, honeydew from aphids or other minor debris
  • Remove roots from gardens
  • Remove roots from drains or repair damage to structures where the tree has not been clearly demonstrated to be the principal cause
  • Remove branches or trees to prevent potential root damage to structures
  • Remove branches nearly touching buildings, walls, roofs, fences etc.
  • Remove branches or trees to prevent access to squirrels or birds
  • Remove branches or trees affecting BT lines (see notes relating to BT lines)

You can report issues with Council owned trees online or by posting a Tree Work Request Form.


Proximity to buildings

All trees are to be maintained at a minimum of 2 metres away from any housing structures. If the main trunk of a house garden tree falls within this 2 metre category the tree should be felled and replacement planting should take place, if deemed appropriate, in a more suitable location. Only trees with a high amenity or historical value will be considered for retention within the 2 metre category. If the main trunk of a house garden tree is within 5m and the crown is within 2 metre of a housing structure, it should be assessed for appropriateness within its location. Trees that fall into this 5 metre category may be considered for cyclical crown reduction.

If you have any enquiries about proximity or cyclical crown reduction, these should be referred to the arboricultural team using the Tree Work Request Form.

British Telecom Lines

We will not carry out any remedial works on trees relating to British Telecom (BT) lines. If there is a concern about your connection, our advice is to report the problem to BT (Openreach). They adhere to the Terms and Conditions of Paragraph 19 of the Telecommunications (Electronic Communications) code which refers to Tree Lopping. This states that where Trees are obstructing or interfering with BT apparatus (as determined by BT) they can notice the relevant party that the trees must be lopped. Generally speaking this is done by BT and in most cases BT will pay. If the land owner (Local Authority if the apparatus is on the Highway/Council Land) so wishes they may "Counter Notice" the BT request, in which case the matter may be determined by the Courts. The situation generally only becomes complicated if someone decides to lop trees affecting apparatus without first consulting BT. If so BT will not agree to pay costs and indeed will charge them if they damage BT apparatus. BT strongly advise therefore that neither private landowners or the Councils do this.

However, if the BT line is also an Emergency Life Line trees will be trimmed by Aberdeen City Council.

What do I do now?

If the works you would like the Council to carry out are listed in the will do list, you will need to fill in a Tree Works Request Form and return it to us. Please read the form carefully and provide as much accurate information as possible. Or you can submit the form online using the links above.

If the works you are requesting are listed in the will not do list, unfortunately the Council will not be able to carry out works on your behalf. If you believe that there is a tree issue that has not been highlighted and it poses a health and safety risk, the Council will consider your request.

What happens next?

Once you have read the form carefully, please print and complete it, providing as much accurate information as possible. Please return the form to the address at the bottom of this page.

If you need us to send a form to you, please contact us on 03000 200 292 and we will arrange for one to be sent out within 5 working days. If you are unsure whether the tree is on Council land and is therefore a Council tree, please contact us. We will request this information to be provided to you. We can only tell if the tree is Council or Privately owned. We will not be able to find a Private Land Owner.

Once we have received your application, we will send a letter confirming that your request is being assessed. This will be done within 10 working days of receipt of form. We aim to assess the work and instruct a contractor, if appropriate, within a period of 6 weeks. Occasionally, high volumes of applications will extend this period. If, after assessment, we decide the work is not appropriate then you will be notified in writing. We will have assessed your application against the list of work we are willing to do. However under certain circumstances you are still entitled to arrange for work to be carried out by a private tree surgeon which is detailed below.

If the Council are unable to do the work, can I get it done myself?

In common law, a property owner can cut back overhanging branches to the boundary of their property. We will usually have no objection to property owners carrying out tree work or engaging a contractor at their own expense, provided that:

  • Access is not gained onto the neighbouring land or to a tree within that land. If access to our land or to a tree on that land is required, our permission must be sought. Please contact the Arboricultural Team using the Tree Work Request Form.
  • The tree is not in a Conservation Area or protected by a Tree Preservation Order, contact Planning 01224 522440 to check.
  • Any work done to a tree is not detrimental to its health or stability.

Contact details

For initial enquiries, please complete the online or postal form above or call Environmental Services on 03000 200 292.

Environmental Services
Business Hub 11 - Level 2 West
Marischal College
Broad Street
AB10 1AB

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