ePetition details

OVERHANGING TREES

We the undersigned petition the County Council to check and cut back all dangerous and overhanging trees

For years, ever since a man was killed near Bushey Arches by a tree falling on his car in 2013, I have been extremely concerned at the amount of trees that overhang our roads, not just in the Hertfordshire area but nearby boroughs too. At the beginning of the year, a huge tree fell across Common Road, Harrow, Stanmore. Thankfully no-one was hurt on that occasion. Last weekend, a tree fell across Ducks Hill Road in Ruislip and hit the boot of a mini as it was driving along the road. Again, miraculously, no-one was hurt/killed. The roads in our local area that I personally have noticed with trees overhanging are Oxhey Lane, Little Oxhey Lane, Prestwick Road and Watford Road. I myself become extremely nervous when driving along any road where there are large trees overhanging, especially when the weather conditions are not great with rain, snow, wind etc. or just after a storm when some of the trees have weakened. I have driven along many roads in the past where smaller branches have fallen onto my car after a storm or bad weather. I feel that all Councils should regularly check trees that are overhanging our roads and cut the branches/trees back or, if any tree is unsafe, old, dead etc. it should be removed so there is no chance that it can fall on a car driving past and injure/kill innocent people. I imagine that if the trees were cut back, this would only need to be done once every year, if that. Other roads with excessive tree overhanging, although not in Hertfordshire, are Old Redding (Stanmore), Common Road (Stanmore), Barnet Lane (Borehamwood) - these are just a few that I come across on a regular basis but there are so many more. More people are going to lose their lives if something is not done. I'm already worrying about myself and my family driving on our roads throughout the upcoming Winter months. The weather is already changing and all overhanging trees need to be cut back now. Please ensure that all trees overhanging any Hertfordshire roads are cut back a safe distance from the road. If Council's liaise with each other, perhaps this could be passed onto other local Council's too.

Started by: Debbi

This ePetition ran from 14/10/2018 to 09/12/2018 and has now finished.

One person signed this ePetition.

Council response

Response to e-Petition: OVERHANGING TREES

Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) owns and is responsible for an estimated 150,000 trees in the public highway (highway trees). Under the Highways Act 1980, HCC as a highway authority has a statutory duty to maintain its highways for use by the public. The management of highway trees (including overhanging trees, branches and vegetation) to ensure they do not pose a danger to the public or property (and third party trees that may affect the highway) falls within this duty.

HCC also has the power to make safe and deal with obstructions from trees on Private Land under Highways Act 1980. Property / land owners have a common law right to remove or abate the nuisance resulting from overhanging branches and vegetation.

In line with national codes of practice, best practice and guidance documents, HCC has produced a Highway Tree Strategy and Guidance Document to ensure:

• A balanced and proportionate approach to risk and safety management based on a prioritised zoning regime considering the location of tree stock in relation to people or property;
• That a system of safety and service inspections of highway trees is in operation to identify and assess defects and condition;
• The capture and maintenance of a comprehensive and up to date highway tree asset inventory data recorded in HCC's computerised Confirm (highway and asset management) System;
• That systems and processes are in place to identify, prioritise and undertake safety related maintenance work according to level of risk;
• That highway tree inspections and safety related maintenance work are only carried out by competent and appropriately qualified personnel;
• That the highway tree stock contributes to people’s health and wellbeing, a sustainable natural environment, carbon reduction and Hertfordshire’s landscape.

The full Highway Tree Strategy and Guidance Document may be viewed here:
https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/about-the-council/freedom-of-information-and-council-data/open-data-statistics-about-hertfordshire/what-our-priorities-are-and-how-were-doing/highways-plans-and-strategies.aspx

Safety and service inspections may be planned and reactive (e.g. in response to customer service enquiries) and are detailed as follows:

• Safety inspections: Planned and undertaken by HCC's Highway Services Maintenance Contractors (Ringway) Highway Inspectors in accordance with HCC’s Defect Management Approach (i.e. Inspection Manual) and includes those trees outside the highway, but within falling distance.
• Service (Hazard and Health condition) inspections: Planned and ad-hoc undertaken by HCC's Arboriculture Advisors and those engaged by Ringway and Agents to HCC (i.e. some Borough and District Councils) in accordance with HCC’s Tree Strategy and Guidance Document. Frequency of planned inspections within urban areas, for each highway tree, is once in a three year cycle.

Safety related maintenance tree work may also be planned (e.g. as a follow on to safety and service inspections) and reactive (e.g. as a result of storm damage and severe weather).

Whilst HCC cannot comment on trees outside of Hertfordshire, HCC can advise that the trees located on the roads within Hertfordshire as detailed in the e-Petition (i.e. Oxhey Lane, Little Oxhey Lane, Prestwick Road and Watford Road; Three Rivers District and Barnet Lane, Borehamwood, Hertsmere District) were inspected by HCC‘s Arboriculture Advisor in November 2018 and no actionable safety related maintenance work was identified.

However, it would be helpful to HCC for residents and customers to report such issues regarding trees as accurately and as specifically as possible via HCC’s Highway Fault Reporting system, which can be found here:
https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/Highways-roads-and-pavements/Report-a-problem/Report-a-street-light-or-pothole.aspx

Further enquiries to CSCHighways@hertfordshire.gov.uk, tel. no. 0300 123 4047.