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Highway Tree Maintenance

St Albans City & District Council carry out safety related work on trees in urban areas that are located on adopted highway on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

All Highway tree related problems identified outside these hours must be reported to Hertfordshire County Council via their website or in the event of an emergency please call 0300 123 4047.

Who to contact

  • A tree on a rural lane or high speed road such as A5183, A6 or the A414 for example
  • A problem with a tree that you need to report out of office hours
  • Trees, hedges or other vegetation growing on private property that's obstructing the highway
  • A tree is affecting a Public Right of Way 

Contact Hertfordshire County Council

Frequently asked questions

Trees on Herts Rights of Way Toggle accordion

Rights of way are footpaths, bridleways and byways which have public access. They are protected by law.

These are managed by Herts County Council.

Report a problem with a Right of Way

Tree watering Toggle accordion

When a new tree is planted a watering bag is installed and the tree placed on Herts County Council's watering list.

Members of the public are also encouraged to water themselves. 

Routine highway tree safety inspections Toggle accordion

All trees Herts County Council are responsible for are inspected on a three year rolling cycle.  St Albans City & District Council carry out the surveys on behalf of Herts County Council on trees that are on highway verges in urban / residential areas.

Trees in rural areas are also inspected on a three year rolling cycle and this is carried out by Herts County Council.

Will felled trees be replaced? Toggle accordion

Where tree removals are required, each will usually be replaced by Herts County Council (HCC).  

Each location will be assessed to establish if it is appropriate to replacement a felled tree.

If it the same location is appropriate and subject to funding it would be carried during the tree planting season which is November to March.

Replacement trees will be a mix of species that have been selected to ensure a resilient highways tree stock. Herts County Council  plant a mix of native trees, and compact cultivars of native trees, as well as an increasing number of species that originate from warmer drier climates. These trees do still provide benefit to UK wildlife but are also far more likely to survive to maturity in an urban setting. This future-proofs the benefits of urban trees and secures them for many more generations of Hertfordshire residents.


Why are trees felled on the Highway? Toggle accordion

Trees on the Highways are managed in line with HCC’s Highways Tree Strategy with each tree receiving an inspection by a qualified arboriculturist on a three-year basis.

These inspections are a ground based visual inspection to assess and record the current overall condition of the trees. This would highlight any immediate or planned works required to keep the tree in a safe and healthy condition. Any such works are programmed and delivered within the required time periods.

 A decision to fell a tree is never made lightly or without valid reason. However, given the high-risk locations of most highways’ trees, we are often constrained in our management options. The removal of the tree is sometimes unavoidable even though the same tree in a more remote location, such as a Park or Green Space, would not necessarily warrant the same action.

Reasons we will not carry out tree work

Each year we receives thousands of requests on behalf of Herts County Council to carry out work on trees on highway verges. These trees are maintainable at public expense and because of budget limitations we must prioritise the work we carry out  to safety related issues.

Listed below are some issues that are not the responsibility of either Hertfordshire County Council or St Albans City & District Council.

Loss of Light and Shading Toggle accordion

Where trees are concerned, there is no “right to light”. Hertfordshire County Council is not required in respect of any law to prune the tree for the benefit of a particular level of light.

Honeydew Toggle accordion

“Honeydew” is a sticky substance that is produced by aphids (small insects) that feed on the leaves of trees. Any application of pesticides would constitute a public health hazard.

Tree debris, fruit and cones Toggle accordion

With regard to problems such as falling leaves, fruit and cones from trees, there is no legal ruling that puts any responsibility on Hertfordshire County Council.

Bird fouling Toggle accordion

Trees do provide a wildlife habitat for birds to nest in and perch on. Pruning the tree is not the solution, as the birds will continue to sit in the pruned tree and foul whatever is underneath. In that respect this complaint is insufficient justification for its pruning or removal.

Satellite/TV reception Toggle accordion

When you buy a television licence it allows you to operate any equipment to receive a transmission, it is not a guarantee of reception. TV aerials allow a viewable image on the screen. However, satellite dishes require a more direct line to receive their signal. Even a small branch can prevent an adequate signal to the satellite dish. Hertfordshire County Council is not required to prune them for the benefit of television reception. Such action would have a huge impact on the environment, affecting visual aesthetics, air quality and public health. It is not the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council and there is no basis in law or policy for the expectation.

Telephone lines & overhead cables Toggle accordion

For problems with tree branches interfering with a telephone line or other overhead cables you will need to take the matter up with your service provider as they are responsible for the routing of the cables.  Your service provider will need to contact Hertfordshire County Council as the Highways Authority to gain permission to carry out any work on the public highway.

Highway surface disrupted Toggle accordion

Trip hazards created by tree roots will be resolved by HCC Highways usually by adjusting footway or carriageway levels.

Pollen and allergies Toggle accordion

Whilst we understand the disruption to normal living such allergies may cause, Hertfordshire County Council is not required to prune trees for this reason. As with TV Reception such action would have a huge impact on the environment, affecting visual aesthetics, air quality and public health. It is not the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council and there is no basis in law or policy for the expectation.

Trees, hedges growing on private property obstructing the highway Toggle accordion

In most cases, trees, hedges growing next to public roads and footpaths are the responsibility of the adjacent landowner.

Report a highway obstruction to Herts County Council


Neither will the removal of, or work to a tree be considered, unless it meets specific criteria where alternative means of preserving the tree are unsuitable.  The occasions that tree work and or the removal of a tree may be considered are:

Dead, dying, diseased or dangerous Toggle accordion

A dead, dying, diseased or dangerous tree that is a danger or hazard to public safety.

Report a dead, dying, diseased or dangerous

Risk of structural damage Toggle accordion

A tree which is proven (by private owners) to be causing significant structural damage to buildings.

Contact Herts County / make a claim

Obstruction to the public highway Toggle accordion

A tree causing an obstruction to a public highway, public right of way, access to property or footpath.

Report a tree obstructing the public highway

Tree type and size Toggle accordion

Trees which are clearly of a size and species inappropriate (as determined by HCC’s arboriculture advisors) to their situation.

Report a problem with a tree