Types of highway tree maintenance we undertake

The work we undertake is focused on what is necessary for safety and for the health of the tree.

Most highway tree work is carried out on open-crowned broadleaved trees. These are generally too exposed for many birds to nest in, but we check trees for nests before work begins. Our contractors will not contravene environmental legislation.

Excessive growth removal – We maintain a list of trees that regularly produce excessive, or epicormic, growth on the trunk and base of a tree. Some species of tree, such as limes, will produce a large quantity of epicormic shoots. We undertake annual maintenance to cut this back to ensure highways are safe.

Pruning – We do not prune trees owned by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) that are causing problems to adjoining properties, unless there are safety reasons for doing so.

Pollarding – This method of hard pruning a tree involves removing the upper branches to promote the growth of a dense head of foliage on truncated limbs rather than a naturally branched tree form. It can only first be carried out on a young tree and is only suitable to pollard a tree where this has been done over many years. In this case, it is pragmatic for us to continue this management for the benefit of the tree and its environment. With the exception of a few species, a tree should not be pollarded for the first time when it is mature. 

Felling – We remove trees along the highway network and on WSCC properties that are dead, diseased, dangerous or causing a problem where no alternative can be found. 

For example, we remove ash trees on WSCC land that are infected by ash dieback. This rapidly spreading fungus causes trees to become unstable and die, so they must be removed to prevent harm to people or property. Private landowners are responsible for managing trees on their land in the same way.

Groups of tree stumps are removed by our contractors within a few weeks of felling. Sometimes though, the arboriculturist may leave a stump in place as a valuable habitat for biodiversity if it does not create a safety issue.

Our budget for tree works

We have a limited budget for tree works which we focus on necessary work. Not only that, there are very sound arboricultural reasons as to how and why we manage trees. We try to retain a healthy and diverse tree stock that will continue to provide local communities with a wide range of unique benefits. We will do this where necessary, as directed by a qualified professional.

You cannot pay to have a highway tree pruned or felled. If a County Arboriculturist has inspected a tree and no works have been raised it is because they are not essential for safety reasons.

Trees are objectively inspected and managed in accordance with good arboricultural practice to maintain a healthy and diverse tree stock. All requests from residents for tree works will be dealt with in a fair and consistent manner.

Last updated:
30 September 2022
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