Trees near roads and pavements

We look after highway trees to make sure that they are kept in a good condition and do not make the highway unsafe.

Report a problem online

Trees are inspected on a planned rotational basis by experienced and qualified professionals.

When inspecting trees we assess:

  • condition
  • potential risks and hazards
  • width and height clearance required for the road
  • any required works.

We do not deal with nuisance related issues, such as:

  • height and width of tree canopy
  • falling leaves, seeds and sap
  • insect or bird droppings
  • light and shading
  • branches overhanging private property
  • interference with television reception, telephone/power cables and solar panels.

If a tree is causing a risk to pedestrians or road users, report it online.

We have an annual tree planting programme to replace trees, and plant trees from early November to the end of March. We consider a wide range of issues to decide when and where trees are to be planted. We follow the “right tree, right place" approach.

It is not always possible to plant trees on the highway even if a tree was previously there because there may be gas, electric supplies, or overhead cables.

We replant all trees that are protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) within 2 years of removal.

As part of our long-term plan for tree planting, we collect sites that may be suitable for planting in future years and add these to our forward plan. These may be old sites or completely new sites where trees have not been planted before. If you are aware of any sites suitable for highway trees or have proposals for larger schemes, then you can raise a request.

Request a tree online (select 'Report a problem' button and then choose 'Trees - tree planting request' from the category list)

We will then review the site and determine if it can be added to our forward programme.

If you want to plant a tree in your own garden or school, read our guidance.

We try to keep as many trees as possible. However, sometimes removal is the most appropriate course of action.

We value the trees that we have and aim to protect them for future generations. Where trees are damaged by third parties or we are asked to remove trees to allow changes or improvements to the highway, we use a system called the Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT). This puts a value on the benefits trees provide such as:

  • improving air quality and reducing pollutants and fine particulates
  • reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • improving physical and mental health
  • providing habitat and protection to plants and animals and increasing biodiversity
  • increasing property values.

The system is an expert-based, nationally recognised amenity tree valuation tool which provides a basis for managing publicly maintained trees as assets rather than liabilities. The system uses a formula based on trunk size which is adjusted for the tree's health and function and its value to the community.

It has been designed to assist local authorities in achieving an appropriate level of compensation where publicly owned trees are damaged or removed by utility companies, crossover applicants and developers or to facilitate access to the highway for new developments.

Find out more about our fees and charges.

To help decide if a tree is unsafe and should be removed, we sometimes use specialist equipment which shows the decay of tree.

We work with industry experts, governing bodies and other local authorities to manage any outbreaks of tree pests and diseases that threaten Kent’s tree asset.

Find out more about how we manage ash dieback in Kent.

If we must cut down trees, the stumps will be cut at approximately one metre in height. This is less likely to be a trip hazard.

We aim to remove stumps from grass verges within 3 months. However, funds currently restrict the removal of stumps within a hard surfaces such as pavements, and these may remain for a number of years prior to removal.

Our contracted tree surgeons can remove fallen trees that are causing an obstruction or hazard to the public highway only. Our priority is the safety of the public, if our stewards establish that a tree is caught up in third party apparatus, they will identify the asset owner and advise accordingly.

When excavating close to trees, electricity, water, gas, and cable companies have agreed to follow a code of practice. This includes the facility for hand digging within the root protection zone.

If a tree is causing an obstruction or a hazard to a public highway, call 03000 41 81 81.

Buses are an important part of Kent’s transport network. Under the Highways Act, property owners have a responsibility to keep vegetation on their property under control, to ensure safe passageway for buses and other vehicles.

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Bus routes - video transcript

Read our guidance on our requirements when cutting back vegetation on bus routes (PDF, 1.7 MB).

You can help by watering new trees during dry weather. A couple of buckets of water once a week will make a difference.

If you mow grass verges please be careful when cutting around trees. Any damage to the bark will reduce the life of the tree.

Private trees next to the highway

In the interest of public safety, we ask that owners or occupiers of land with trees near the highway have them regularly inspected by a competent person to meet their ‘duty of care’.

If a private tree is causing a risk to pedestrians or road users, we ask that the owner cuts it back.

If you can't contact the owner, report it online and we will contact the owner (if possible). In an emergency, we will cut back the tree so the road can be reopened. The cuttings will be left on the property and we ask that the owner disposes of them.

We may seek to recover all reasonable costs from the owner or occupier of the land. Find out more about our fees and charges.

Council owned trees

If a council owned tree has fallen, but is not blocking a road or pavement and is not a safety concern, report it online.

If a tree is blocking a road or pavement, call us to report this emergency on 03000 41 81 81 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or 03000 41 91 91 at all other times.

If you spot a problem that is not covered by the information provided, you can report it online.