We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Vegetation FAQs

Our waterways and towpaths are rich in vegetation, which needs careful management to allow people to enjoy the canals and rivers and for wildlife to thrive in and alongside them. We've listed a series of FAQs around vegetation and when problems arise that need addressing.

Find about:

Trees

Fallen / windblown tree blocking the towpath or channel

If you come across a tree which is blocking the navigation or towpath please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online here

Tree causing damage to property

We undertake a routine independent health and safety survey to identify any dead, dying or dangerous trees and any works highlighted as a priority are programmed and prioritised accordingly. If a tree is structurally sound we do not undertake works to a tree unnecessarily.

We take any reports of damage to property seriously, so please provide us with an independent report / photographic evidence and we will investigate. Let us know online or on 0303 040 4040

Tree is diseased / damaged or feels unsafe

We undertake a routine independent health and safety survey to identify any dead, dying or dangerous trees and any works highlighted as a priority are programmed and prioritised accordingly. If a tree is structurally sound we do not undertake works to a tree unnecessarily.

If you feel a tree requires urgent attention, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online. We will then assess undertake a preliminary assessment and take action if necessary.

Please note, we are unable to undertake works to any tree which does not belong to us, unless branches are overhanging our land and causing an obstruction. We would encourage you to contact the landowner directly in this case.

Tree branches overhanging property

There is no requirement by law to prevent trees spreading over a boundary. We undertake a routine independent health and safety survey to identify any dead, dying or dangerous trees and any works highlighted as a priority are programmed and prioritised accordingly. If a tree is structurally sound we do not undertake works to a tree unnecessarily.

You are legally entitled to trim back hedges or branches of overgrown trees or hedges if they fall into your property from neighbouring land. You are only legally entitled to trim up to the property boundary and are strongly advised to consult a professional tree surgeon for guidance on how best to prune back encroaching trees, unless the work could be done with hand tools. If you can carry out the work safely from your land you may proceed, however, if you need access to work on our land you are required to comply with our Code of Practice. NB. There is a charge for this service. Please dispose of cut material responsibly.

In addition, before undertaking any works to trees owned by us you should find out if they are protected by a Tree Preservation Order or are within a Conservation Area. Please contact your Local Planning Authority for further details on the process.

Tree branches overhanging towpath

If branches are impeding the towpath please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will investigate.

Tree is too tall / big

We undertakes a routine independent health and safety survey to identify any dead, dying or dangerous trees and any works highlighted as a priority are programmed and prioritised accordingly. If a tree is structurally sound the we don't undertake works to a big or tall tree unnecessarily.

Tree blocking light / view to property

Householders have no absolute right to light from across a neighbour’s land. Likewise, there is no right to a view. Right to light or a view obstructed by the growth of trees cannot legally be regarded as a ‘nuisance’. If a tree is structurally sound we don't undertake works to it unnecessarily.

Tree affecting TV signal

There is no legal right to television reception. Existing trees on neighbouring land which interfere with television reception, especially with satellite transmissions, are unlikely to be regarded as a ‘nuisance’. If a tree is structurally sound the we don't undertake works to it unnecessarily.

Leaf fall blocking drains / gutters

Whilst we are sympathetic, we do not undertake works to remove leaf litter from property bordering our land. It is the responsibility of the occupier to maintain their land.

Arisings (branches / logs / cut wood) left on site

It is our standard practice to leave arisings resulting from tree works on site (on land owned by us) as this reduces transport and associated costs. Arisings are left in piles and left to rot down providing valuable nesting, shelter and hibernation habitat for small mammals, insects, fungi and birds. We will remove arisings where there is a higher level of risk from anti-social behaviour or instability on steeper embankments or cuttings.

Trees facilitating anti-social behaviour

If you suspect tree growth on our land is harbouring anti-social behaviour, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will investigate.

Unauthorised tree work by third party

If you suspect tree works are being carried out on our land by an unauthorised third party, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will investigate.

Other

If you have a query about trees other than those stated above, please contact us online or call us on 0303 040 4040 We would appreciate as much detail as possible and photos if feasible to aid any further investigation.

Read more about how we manage our trees here.

Managing offside vegetation 

Vegetation overhanging the channel and impeding navigation / line of sight

We have a rolling programme of offside vegetation cutting which is undertaken annually between October and March (outside of the bird breeding season). If you feel there is an urgent need to cut back vegetation in your area, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will investigate.

Trust vegetation management from third party property

We have a legal obligation to ensure that our waterways are free from obstruction for users and navigation. We also have the right as landowner to cut any vegetation overhanging our property provided we do not remove the timber, unless permission to do so is granted by the owner of the vegetation.

Exposing third party boundary / security issues

We cut only vegetation overhanging our property to allow safe navigation, passage and access for our customers; all works are undertaken from our own land and the arisings are deposited on the offside bank where safe to do so. We are not obliged to provide security for your property and we would recommend contacting the Local Planning Authority should any anti-social behaviour take place.

Arisings (branches / logs / cut wood) left on site

It is our standard practice to leave arisings resulting from tree works on site (on land owned by us) as this reduces transport and associated costs. Arisings are left in piles and left to rot down providing valuable nesting, shelter and hibernation habitat for small mammals, insects, fungi and birds. We will remove arisings where there is a higher level of risk from anti-social behaviour or instability on steeper embankments or cuttings.

Other

If you have a query other than those stated above, please contact us online. We would appreciate as much detail as possible and photos if feasible to aid any further investigation.

Hedge cutting 

Arisings (branches / logs / cut wood) left on towpath

We make every effort to ensure that the towpath is left in a clean, tidy and safe state. Hedge clippings are usually deposited within the hedge line and we undertake periodic inspections to ensure that our towpaths are left free of cuttings. However, gusts of wind and rain can sometimes move the clippings back onto the towpath.

Please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online if arisings are causing an obstruction.

Punctured bicycle tyre

We make every effort to ensure that the towpath is left in a clean, tidy and safe state. Unfortunately, we cannot be held responsible for any damage to private property when undertaking an activity on the canal network. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Timing of hedge works

All hedge cutting work takes place between October and March to minimise disturbance to nesting birds. Due to the hundreds of kilometres of hedgerows we cut annually, we cannot provide an exact date as to when your section of hedgerow will be cut.

If you wish to report a section of hedgerow which has not been cut sufficiently by the end of this period, please contact us online and we will investigate.

Branches overhanging towpath

If branches are impeding the towpath please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will investigate.

Hedge blocking light / view

Householders have no absolute right to light from across a neighbour’s land. Likewise, there is no right to a view and a view obstructed by the growth of hedges cannot legally be regarded as a 'nuisance'.

If you feel a hedgerow would benefit from hedge-laying, please refer to the question below.

Hedge laying request

We are constantly surveying and reviewing hedgerow management across the network. Laying hedges is a great form of management and we are keen, where possible, to lay more. However, as we are sure you understand not all hedges or locations are suitable and there are resource issues due to the increased cost, when compared to cutting. We compile information regarding opportunities to improve, enhance and even increase our already extensive hedgerow network of which we have over 1,200 miles across England and Wales. Hedge laying is sometimes undertaken by our volunteers – please see the Events section of our website to check for opportunities in your area.

Please contact us online if you would like to recommend an area which would benefit from hedge laying and thank you for taking the time to make us aware of this potential.

Hedge planting request

We are constantly surveying and reviewing hedgerow management across the network. Where we have gaps in hedgerows we try to plant new sections where possible to provide a boundary and benefit wildlife. Hedge planting is sometimes undertaken by our volunteers – please see the volunteering section of our website to check for opportunities in your area.

Please contact us online if you would like to recommend an area which would benefit from hedge planting and thank you for taking the time to make us aware of this potential.

Other

If you have a query other than those stated above, please contact us online. We would appreciate as much detail as possible and photos if feasible to aid any further investigation.

Please visit here for more information about how we manage our hedgerows.

Mowing the grass

Grass clippings/stone chippings spread onto boat 

If you are an occupant of a long term mooring and wish the mowing team to leave a small strip of grass between your boat and the mown grass, please download and install one of our signs in the aft and stern of your boat. Please note that grass will need cutting a minimum of once per year to prevent woody growth establishing.

We make every effort to minimise grass clippings being spread onto boats. Our contractor is instructed to wash or blow off any debris as far as is practical.

If stones from the towpath cause damage to your boat, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online

Grass cuttings in water

Our contractor is instructed not to allow grass clippings to enter the water, however small amounts of clippings will inevitably enter the water. A failure to prevent unreasonable amounts of clippings entering the water is a breach of the Code of Practice as agreed by the contractor – as such they will be penalised and requested to remove the clippings.

Please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online to report any incidents.

How we choose to cut the grass

Mowing specifications are decided through consultation with the local waterway to ensure that user requirements, landscape character, native wildflowers and biodiversity value are all taken into account.

Our mowing regime is reviewed during the winter, so if you would like us to consider a change or more sensitive approach in your area please contact us online.

Lack of mooring points

Mowing specifications are decided through consultation with the local waterway to ensure that user requirements, landscape character and biodiversity value are all taken into account. We endeavour to provide mooring/alighting points at approximately one kilometre intervals and where tall vegetation exists a section of it is cut to provide an alighting point.

If you feel insufficient mooring points are being provided in your area, please contact us online and we will ensure guidelines are being followed.

Cutting to edge – impact on water voles

Water voles can be affected by cutting grass too close to the water’s edge. We tailor our grass management to prevent any undue impact on protected or threatened species, in particular water voles.

Should you wish to report any damage to known water vole habitat in your area, please contact us online and we will investigate further.

Cutting to hedge – exposing third party boundary

During the grass-growing season we mow the towpath to meet users’ requirements and allow our engineers to inspect the stability of our infrastructure. However, annually a full width cut is undertaken / access paths are cut to ensure that woody vegetation does not establish. We're not obliged to provide security for your property and we would recommend contacting the Local Planning Authority should any anti-social behaviour take place.

Other

If you have a query other than those stated above, please contact us online. We would appreciate as much detail as possible and photos if feasible to aid any further investigation.

Please visit here for more information about how we cut our grass

Invasive species control

Japanese knotweed/Giant hogweed adjacent to your property

We implement an annual control programme of the most invasive species on our network and target our management to prevent plants from spreading onto adjacent land.

If you wish to report Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) or Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) which is encroaching on your property, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online.

Reporting Giant hogweed on our network

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) poses a serious health and safety risk if touched and is only treated by qualified, suitably protected contractors.

Reports of these plants on our network are welcomed, so please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will check if it is already included in our treatment schedule.

Himalayan balsam control

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is now widespread along our network; unfortunately, we do not have the resources to control it in every location. We hold ‘Balsam bashing’ events during the spring and early summer, so if you would like to help us, please see the volunteering section of our website to check for opportunities in your area.

Reporting invasive species on our network

The Trust takes the presence of both native and non-native invasive plants on our property very seriously and welcomes any reports.

Please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will check if it is already included in our treatment schedule.

Common ragwort on our land adjacent to horse grazing

We have a duty to prevent the spread of the injurious weed Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) onto adjacent horse grazing land under the Weeds Act, 1959.

If you wish to report any Common ragwort on our land, please contact us online.

Help us with invasive species control

We will always welcome help managing the burden of invasive species. However, some like Japanese knotweed and Giant hogweed are difficult to manage by volunteers. Plants like Himalayan balsam and Ragwort can be ‘pulled’ by volunteers: please see the volunteer section of our website to check for opportunities in your area. If you would like to help us monitor the presence and extent of invasive species, please contact us online.

Duckweed, Blanket weed, Floating pennywort, Water fern

During the spring and summer invasive aquatic species such as Duckweed (Lemnoideae family) Blanket weed (pond algae), Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) and Water fern (Azolla filculoides) can multiply and cover the surface of the water negatively impacting native species by restricting sunlight and reducing oxygen levels.

If you spot any, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will check if it is already included in our treatment schedule.

Blue green algae

Blue green algae (BGA) are naturally occurring organisms but in nutrient rich waters and encouraged by warm weather, BGA can grow excessively and cause water quality problems and potentially health problems in the summer months. We have a recognised internal process for monitoring and managing blue green algae in our reservoirs and waterbodies.

If you spot any, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online.

Other

If you have a query other than those stated above, please contact us online. We would appreciate as much detail as possible and photos if feasible to aid any further investigation.

Please visit here to find out more about how we control invasive species.

Aquatic channel vegetation  

Vegetation / reeds blocking navigation

We manage vegetation / reed encroachment into the channel during our cyclical dredging programme. This process is usually only undertaken during the winter months to reduce the impact on nesting birds and water vole habitat. Due to limited funds, we have to prioritise these works across the whole network so management may not be possible immediately. In certain instances, we may consider cutting encroaching vegetation or treating it with herbicide.

If you are concerned about vegetation encroachment, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online and we will check if the area is included on our management schedule.

Reed removal / habitat loss

Reed removal is sometimes necessary to aid navigation along our waterways. We aim to retain a minimum 1m width of reed habitat on the offside and/or towpath side to benefit nesting birds, water voles and invertebrates.

Please visit here to find out more about how we manage aquatic vegetation.

Vegetation on the bank edge 

Saplings (woody vegetation) blocking a mooring point

We aim to provide a bank edge clear of any woody growth by cutting and treating saplings annually. The purpose of this is to prevent any damage to structures or pose a permanent barrier to mooring. In some instances, we retain woody vegetation to benefit wildlife and conserve landscape and culture.

If you are concerned about woody vegetation on the bank edge, please call us on 0303 040 4040 or contact us online.

Other

If you have a query other than those stated above, please contact us online. We would appreciate as much detail as possible and photos if feasible to aid any further investigation.

Please visit here to find out more about how we manage bank edge vegetation.

Last date edited: 16 April 2018