Highways Act 1980
The following sections of the Highways Act apply specifically to trees, shrubs and hedges in relation to highways.
A highway is defined as 'A way for public use, including a footpath, bridleway or byway'. Any route over which all persons have an absolute right to pass and re-pass as often and whenever they wish, without let or hindrance.
Some highways have restrictions on how they can be used but all 'Rights of Way' are highways.
The Highway Authority may plant trees, shrubs and other vegetation either for ornament or in the interests of safety. A Highway authority may alter or remove any works constructed by them.
The Highway Authority may direct a landowner to alter any tree, shrub or other vegetation that obstructs the view at a corner.
The Highway Authority may restrain or restrict a landowner from planting a tree, shrub or other vegetation at a corner.
The Highway Authority may plant trees and shrubs and undertake works as necessary to maintain, protect or remove them.
Such planting should not hinder the reasonable use of the highway or be a nuisance to the owner of an adjacent property.
If damage is caused to an adjacent property by the planted trees and shrubs, the owner may be entitled to compensation.
It is an offence to inscribe or affix any picture, letter, sign or other marks upon a Highway tree without the consent of the Authority.
The Highway Authority may seek a court order requiring an owner to cut, prune or plash (layer) a hedge or prune a tree, if the highway is being damaged by the exclusion of the sun and the wind by a hedge or tree.
It is an offence to plant a hedge in a Highway without written authority.
It is an offence to plant a tree or shrub within 15ft of the centre of the carriageway subject to sections 64, 96 and 142.
The Highway Authority may grant a license to the owner of an adjoining property to plant and maintain or to keep and maintain trees and shrubs in the highway.
The Highway Authority may serve notice requiring the cutting or felling of a hedge, tree or shrub which endangers, obstructs or interferes with the passage of vehicles or pedestrians, including the view of drivers or the light from a street lamp.
The work is required be carried out within 14 days.
Note: A 'hedge, tree or shrub' includes vegetation of any description.
The Highway Authority may also serve notice requiring the cutting or felling of a hedge, tree or shrub which by reason of its condition is likely to cause danger by falling on the highway.
It is an offence to light a fire on land adjacent to a highway if it results in causing a danger to road users.
Any person working on the highway must erect barriers and traffic signs for preventing danger to traffic, for regulating traffic, and for warning traffic of danger and remove them as soon as they cease to be needed for any of those purposes.
They must also properly guard and light the works during the hours of darkness.
The Act allows the courts to grant an order authorising entry onto private property to carry out works, as necessary, to comply with the provisions of the Act and also makes it an offence to obstruct someone acting in execution of their duty.
For specific advice, with respect to the law, please seek qualified legal opinion. For general advice please contact us.
Highways Act 1980