We have around one million trees growing along our waterways and these provide valuable wildlife habitats and beautiful places for people to relax. However, we have to manage them carefully to make sure they don’t damage our valuable infrastructure.

A crane cutting trees by the canal Cutting trees by the canal

Self-seeded trees in the wrong places, such as bridges and embankments can lead to major structural damage. Dead, dying or diseased trees are more likely to come down in high winds. We survey our highest risk trees every 2 to 4 years based on where they are located, pollarding, coppicing, felling and planting as necessary. We are not obliged to survey Third Party trees adjacent to our land because we are unable to carry out works to trees that do not belong to us, although we are legally entitled to cut any overhanging branches. We spend over £1 million per year managing our trees.

We also have to deal with hundreds of tree emergencies each year, such as trees falling over, branches breaking off or significant changes in the tree’s health. The vast majority of these trees belong to others. If property borders the canal network landowners have a legal obligation to manage their tree stock. We would welcome effective management so that we don’t have to divert money away from our essential work.

Apart from emergency tree work, all of our arboricultural activities are undertaken between October and March, to avoid disturbing any nesting birds or bat roosts. 

Last date edited: 17 April 2018