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Responsibilities - Landowners and Cornwall Council

Landowners' responsibilities

Private landowners are responsible for all the trees on their land. This includes the felling and removal of dead or diseased trees affected by ash dieback.

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Cornwall Council is responsible for the removal of trees growing on its own land or growing within the limits of the maintained highway only

It is the legal responsibility of the landowner to take reasonable steps to ensure that trees on their land do not present a risk to the public. This responsibility extends to trees rooted in Cornish hedges that form the boundary to the highway.  It is important to carry out regular checks on trees, particularly after storm force winds. Pay most attention to those that overhang or may fall onto a public right of way or highway. 

You should be looking for:

  • obvious signs of ill health including dying or discoloured foliage or deadwood in the upper or outer canopy.
  • instability - including freshly exposed roots, soil cracking or significant movement of the root plate. 
  • decay fungi (mushrooms, toadstools or brackets) within the roots or on the tree.
  • structural defects including large deadwood, broken hanging branches, splits, cavities, or decay. 

Seek professional advice if you are not sure what to look for or have concerns regarding your trees. Tree specialists (arboricultural consultants) or tree surgeons (arborists) can assist with inspection and management.

See the Choosing a tree specialist (arboricultural consultant) or tree surgeon (arborist) page for more information. 

The National Tree Safety Group has produced useful advice for property owners (large or small) about managing trees and tree risk.

Cornwall Council has discretionary powers to deal with privately owned trees that pose a threat to a public right of way or highway. Cornwall Council will seek to recover the costs of any works from the landowner. 

The landowner is responsible for the trees on their land. They may be found liable for any damage or injury a tree may cause should they fall. It is extremely important to carry out regular checks on any trees that overhang or may fall onto a public area, right of way, or the highway. Please see the advice above. 

If you believe ash trees on neighbouring land may be affected by the disease, you should bring the potential problem to the attention of your neighbour. They may not be aware of the disease or the implications for safety or liability. 

Cornwall Council has very limited powers to act in the case of privately-owned trees where there is a dispute or a landowner cannot be identified. Furthermore, these are only used in exceptional circumstances. If you are concerned about the safety of privately-owned ash trees you should raise your concerns with the landowner. 

More information, including details of how and when the Council might take action is provided in our Dangerous Trees advice note

Private landowners are responsible for all trees on their land. This includes the felling and removal of dead and diseased trees affected by ash dieback.

Cornwall Council does not provide services to remove and dispose of materials arising from tree work. This is the responsibility of the landowner. Infected materials should not be disposed of at green waste recycling sites as this may assist the spread of the disease. 

Cornwall Council has issued an advice note regarding the impact of ash dieback and our approach to tree protection and other planning issues.