Trees on your land that cause accidental injury or damage due to storm damage are your responsibility.
With the storm season well and truly underway here, and with more to come, it’s a good time to think about having a good ol’ MOT for the trees on your property or land, particularly those that overhang roads, footpaths or other building.

It makes sense to routinely Inspect the trees yourself for changes and potential problems, particularly before or after high winds, but consider a professional tree inspection every few years to keep yourself covered in case of accidental injury or damage. So, what should you be looking out for:

Is it a healthy tree overall?

Think of it as an overall look at the health of the tree. What can you tell about the tree as a whole?

  • are there any dead or broken branches
  • are there areas devoid of leaf cover or with thinning leaves
  • is the tree shedding leaves earlier than it should
  • is the tree leaning (and is it leaning more than it was previously)
What about the roots ?
  • is the earth around the base of the tree cracked or lifted
  • is there movement
  • are there dead/fallen branches on the ground
  • fungus around the roots and base is often a good indication of internal decay
  • roots raising or cracking roads, paths & driveways could cause a fall
  • certain trees (e.g. silver birch) have very shallow roots and can be weakened by wet ground and high winds
The trunk ?
  • large cracks, splits and/or cavities are indicative the tree is in serious trouble
  • large areas where the bark is falling off
  • where there is a double trunk, look where they join (strong connections appear are u-shaped, where weaker connections have an acute v-shape). After high winds, check the section where they join for fine lines or cracks.
The crown of the tree ?
  • if one or two branches have brown leaves, while the rest are green, they are dead wood.
  • branches that have been dead for a while will be devoid of bark – these need removed
  • check for broken branches and limbs after a storm


This is just a laymans guide to having a quick check on the trees on your land, however there are many other signs and symptoms to look out for.

A qualified tree inspector is an inexpensive way to get your trees checked (thus covering yourself) and to get unbiased advice if any works are actually required. Sometimes all it needs are a couple of branches taken out, and sometimes nothing other than to keep an eye on a small problem area. What it does give is peace of mind, and resassurance should the worst happen.

C. A. Calvey, P.T.I., Tech.Cert (Arbor.A), Cert.Arb (RFS), BA Hons. Consulting Arborist Society (Professional Member)

Chris is one of only a handful of qualified tree inspectors in Scotland.

Chris carries out tree inspections across Scotland. While your local Tree Surgeon is likely to be a highly skilled tree worker, few are qualified inspectors, and it is vital to know you are legally covered when it comes to trees on your property.

Professional and friendly, Chris is well known in his field of work and advises home owners, public bodies, country estates, Protected Areas, developers, property managers and insurance companies.


Stirling Council – Trees And The Law
Responsibility for Tree Care and Management
Tree care and management is normally the responsibility of the owner of the land upon
which they are situated. The landowner also has a duty of care to ensure a tree is
not likely cause damage or injury as a consequence of, for example, general decline,
disease or storm damage. It is therefore advisable to regularly inspect the condition of
trees (including for signs of dieback, general lack of vigour, fungal infection and structural
defects) and, where necessary, seek the advice of competent arboricultural consultant
or contractor. The Arboricultural Association leaflet – “An Introduction to Trees and their
Management” provides general guidance on common aspects of tree management for
members of the public who own or have an interest in trees, and can be found on this
web link:-
Where trees are situated on or immediately adjacent to a property boundary then they
may be deemed to be mutually owned by the adjoining property owners who will then
have shared responsibility for tree care and management.
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