All tree works are carried out to British Standards (BS3998:2010), by qualified tree surgeons, and in compliance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Tree pruning can include removal of low branches, those causing specific problems as mentioned above or removal of dead or damaged branches.
The Council does not prune trees solely for the following reasons:
- Sap – Sefton Council will not prune a tree to reduce deposit of honey dew (sap) on private property (including cars). The sticky substance excreted by feeding aphids is sugar-based and can be removed with warm water. Unfortunately, no amount of pruning can reduce or stop it. Depending on tree species, any severe pruning can either result in tree health decline or prolific growth of new shoots and leaves which are favoured by aphids. Pruning may increase aphid population and thus sap production.
- Excessive bird excrement – Sefton Council will not prune a tree to try to stop birds sitting in the tree and defecating on the ground/objects/people below.
- Leaf/blossom/fruit/seed drop – these are seasonal and do not class as a statutory nuisance.
- Shading – there is no “right to light” when it comes to deciduous trees even if they grow in a group (i.e., in a park)
- Blocking views – Sefton Council will not prune trees to allow views from private properties. We will only prune trees if sightlines are obscured by basal growth on Lime trees or by very low branches.
- BT cables get brushed by branch tips – The Council will prune a tree when BT cables are visibly pulled by tree branches (when the cables are taut). We do not prune trees if only the tips of branches brush against the cables.
- Tree is perceived “too large” or “too tall” for the street – the council does not top trees. This is bad practice and can be detrimental to the tree's health. It results in even more prolific re-growth. The new branches are often attached weakly to the main stem, it can result in pockets of decay at these growth points in time the tree/branches may pose a safety risk to buildings, passing people and vehicles.
Sefton council does not remove trees without a good reason, the Tree and Woodland team take the decision to remove a tree very seriously and it is only considered in the interests of public Health and Safety. However, like all other tree works, tree removals are prioritised. A dead tree may not necessarily be imminently dangerous. For example: Elms that have died because of Dutch Elm Disease can remain structurally sound for years, while a tree that is still in leaf, but is infected with fungus that affects its root system is of risk of toppling over.
Tree removal is carried out in two stages. Firstly, the branches and main trunk are removed leaving the stump at a height of approximately 1m (3ft). Stump grinding is carried out at a later stage as a separate operation and is issued as a batch work. We cannot remove stumps at the same time as we remove the tree because the work requires an additional piece of machinery and often coordinating with a different contractor. In some locations our highways contractor excavates the pavement around the stump to allow for both the stump and surrounding roots to be removed, returning to then reinstate the footway post stump and root removal. In some instances, stumps are left in situ such as in a park setting. On the highway, stump removal is prioritised in a similar way to the other tree work by which those causing a greater issue to Health and Safety are removed first.
Reasons for a tree to be removed include:
- Tree is dead
- Tree is in decline; it has been monitored and it has been noted to be in decline for a few years and there are no signs the tree will recover.
- Tree has become structurally unsound; a tree can be structurally unsound when:
- its root system has been affected by wood-decaying fungi like Merilipus giganteus, Armillaria mellea or Ganoderma sp. There is also a range of fungi that don’t actively decompose healthy wood but thrive on already decayed wood and as such are indicative of a compromised root system (decaying roots).
- Its main stem or main scaffolding limbs have been affected by wood-decaying fungi for example Ganoderma sp. or Inonotus hispidus.
- The Tree’s root system is compromised during resurfacing works
- There is no engineering solution to make the pavement safe. The tree is then deemed to have outgrown its location and therefore needs be removed.
The Council will not remove a tree because of:
- Sap - Sefton Council will not remove a tree because of honey dew (sap) is being deposited on private property (including cars). The sticky substance excreted by feeding aphids is sugar-based and can be removed with warm water. The degree of nuisance does not warrant tree removal.
- Excessive bird excrement - Sefton Council will not remove a tree to try to stop birds sitting in the tree and defecating on the ground/objects/people below.
- Dogs defecating at tree base – Sefton Council will not remove a tree because people walking dogs do not pick up their dogs’ faeces. Not picking up one’s dog poo is classed as anti-social behaviour and the absence of a tree will not make an irresponsible dog owner act responsibly.
- Leaf/blossom/fruit/seed drop – The Council will not remove a tree because it drops leaves/seeds/fruit in autumn or flowers in spring/summer. These are seasonal occurrences and do not class as statutory nuisance.
- Shading – The Council will not remove a tree because it shades property; there is no “right to light” when it comes to deciduous trees even if they grow in a group (i.e. in a park).
- Tree is perceived “too large” or “too tall” for the street or “taller than a house” – Sefton council will not remove a tree because it is perceived as “too large” or is included in “what if” scenarios. Height of the tree does not make it automatically dangerous. There is no prescriptive height a tree is allowed to grow to in urban environment.
- Tree is interfering with Sky TV reception – The Council will not remove a tree to allow better Sky TV reception. Signal problems can be usually overcome by a signal booster, positioning a satellite dish in an alternative location.
- Resident wants to park their car in a certain location – The Council will not remove a tree because a resident wishes to park in a specific location i.e. right outside their house.