Call 01743 241181 for friendly & expert advice

Latest News

Search Sales
Search lettings

Farming Talk - Golden Carpet Leaves Branch Liabilities

Farming Talk by Jack Cooper

As the leaves begin to change colour the public’s imagination is captured by the trees that inhabit the countryside. Whilst some may enjoy heading out for a stroll over a crisp carpet of leaves, landowners ought to be taking a walk to ensure those same trees will not pose an increased liability over the coming months. 

The National Tree Safety Group (NTSG) produce a document entitled Common Sense Risk Management of Trees which serves as a guide for managing the risk posed by trees on your property. Below I have summarised three points from the document which may apply to your circumstances. As with all risk management, it is important to only rely on specific advice for your circumstances, there cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to such matters.

Zoning: The NTSG points to zoning as a useful management aid for land owners. This sees areas categorised according to the amount of access. Examples of higher risk areas would be those adjacent to roads, or areas which receive high numbers of visitors. It is worth noting that the Occupiers Liability Acts (1957 and 1984) place a duty of care on landowners to some extent for both ‘legal’ and ‘non-legal’ visitors (e.g. trespassers). If you are aware of informal footpaths and other non-permissive access to your land this should be taken into account. 

Inspections: The NTSG lists three ‘types’ of inspections which may be necessary (formal, informal, and detailed). Whatever regime you put it in place it is crucial that this is informed by your own specific circumstances and that it is recorded so that you can prove what action has been taken to manage the risk posed by trees on your property.   

Informal observations: Finally, anyone working on your property should be aware of the need to ‘keep a weather eye’ on trees. What the NTSG describes as ‘informal inspections’ can be made by anyone with good local knowledge. This could cover a range of people from farm employees to landowners and forestry consultants. It is worth reminding all those involved of this common responsibility. It may seem like common sense but an awareness of these issues could flag up problems before they develop into anything serious.  

Though it can seem that the administrative burden imposed by health and safety knows no limits this is an active area of enforcement following incidents and, once implemented, an inspection regime quickly becomes part of the day to day risk management common to all rural businesses.

Jack Cooper is an Assistant Land Agent, with Balfours, for more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Subscribe to our newsletter

The Balfours email newsletter is the best way to keep up to date with new properties and the goings on at Balfours.

You can subscribe online here. We will never share your details with third parties without your consent.