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Maintenance of trees

We are responsible for the management of approximately 14,000 street trees and 185 hectares of plantations across the city. We are also responsible for the management of trees within parks, cemeteries and woodlands.

We do not...

❌ Fell or prune council owned trees that reduce light into properties or gardens unless severe restriction has occurred

❌ Fell council owned trees because they interfere with television, satellite and solar panels unless in exceptional circumstances

❌ Fell or prune council owned trees to stop problems caused by natural and/or seasonal phenomena for example falling leaves, sap, blossom, fruit, nuts, bird and insect droppings

❌ Carry out work on private or Gentoo land. Gentoo related queries should be reported to them on (0191) 525 5000 or via the Gentoo website. You can find private land owner details on the GOV.UK website.

Reporting a tree

Before you start you will need:    

✅Accurate location details

✅Accurate description of the issue

✅Photos of tree issue (max x3 inc size) (optional)

✅Council Customer Account to track your request (optional)

We assess requests for service based on the risk the tree(s) poses. It is assigned a priority based upon the initial inspection carried out. The work that poses the greatest risk to public safety is a Priority 1 and resources will be assigned to these jobs first. The table below shows our levels of prioritisation for categorising tree work.

Priority Level Risk Assessment Action Timeframe 
Priority 1 Immediate risk to public safety Genuine emergencies will receive rapid response Within 24 hours of inspection date 
Priority 2Non-immediate risks posed by trees to public safety Works to be classified as essential, associated with reducing the risk of a danger Works to be completed within 6 months of inspection date 
Priority 3No current risk posed Works to be classified as desirable or 'good neighbour'. Aimed at reducing nuisance such a branches brushing against buildings in normal windsWithin 12 months of inspection date 
Priority 4Non-essential Only occur if resources available. Considerations around urgency of situation, degree of inconvenience and best time of year for work to be actionedN/A 

If you need to report maintenance of trees, please click on the report button below. Our Local Services Arbor Team will consider your request and update it with the relevant priority and action to be taken after it has been inspected. 

Report maintenance of trees

The table below shows examples of the frequent requests we receive and how these are managed. This is not an exhaustive list and is not intended as a definitive guide.

All enquires are assessed on a case-by-case basis and assigned a priority for work after an initial inspection.

Typical request for serviceNormal course of action
✅ Dangerous trees 

The council will endeavour to ensure all hazardous trees that pose a significant threat will either be felled, or where appropriate instigate remedial works so that the risk is reduced to an acceptable level.

✅ Trees which are proven to be causing structural damage to property

The council will only remove or prune council owned trees that are proven to be causing damage to property if it is the most appropriate solution. The council will require positive evidence which will be provided by the claimant to support a subsidence claim.

✅ Trees which overhang properties

The council may cut back trees from properties where they touch windows, walls, roofs or gutters. This will ensure that damage to property such as aerials, tiles or gutters is avoided.

✅ Trees which obstruct adopted footpaths and highways

The council may maintain its trees to provide the statutory clearance for pedestrians and vehicles over footways and roads respectively in accordance with the requirements of the Highway Authority, so as to maintain a free and unobstructed passage.

❌ Trees which are blocking light 

The council does not fell or prune council owned trees solely for the reason that they are allegedly reducing light levels into properties or are casting shade over gardens unless it is demonstrated that a severe restriction has resulted.

❌ Television and Satellite reception issues

The council does not fell council owned trees solely for the reason that they are causing interference with television and satellite reception. Pruning will only be considered if the required works is consistent with good arboricultural practice and will not unduly affect the amenity or the health of the tree.

❌ Seasonal issues

The council do not fell or prune council owned trees solely to alleviate problems caused by natural and/or seasonal phenomena as listed.


Tree Policy 

Our Tree Policy 2022 brings together various tree management approaches into one document, covering the following:

  • How we maintain our trees to manage risk
  • How we improve the health of our tree stock
  • Our management responsibility and legislation
  • Tree surveying
  • Prioritising tree work to manage risk
  • Remedial work framework
  • Types of tree work
  • Tree planting
  • Maintenance and service standard

Tree Preservation Orders

TPO's protect trees of a high amenity value or if they have a significant impact on the environment. A TPO is a legal document enforced by us as the local planning authority. It protects specified trees and woodlands from being cut down, uprooted, topped, lopped, wilful damage or destruction (including cutting roots) without our permission. A TPO can protect anything from a single tree to all trees within a defined group or woodland. For more information check our Tree Preservation Order page.

Bird Nesting Season 

Please note that the bird nesting season begins on March 1st and runs through to July 31st. This is a guideline and it can be assumed that birds will nest before and after this period. Before any work is carried out within this season, a physical survey will be carried out to ensure there are no nesting birds present. If birds are found to be nesting, it may lead to a delay in the required work being carried out. 

Ash Dieback Disease

This is a highly destructive disease that will kill around 80% of Ash trees across the UK and was first noticed in Sunderland in 2019. The fungal spores are carried by the wind, so very little can be done to prevent it spreading, the trees that are infected become weaker with an increased risk of falling branches and tree failure.

We are currently managing the infected trees in line with our tree priority levels, addressing which trees pose a greater risk to public safety. You can find out more about Ash Dieback at:

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