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Maintaining roads


Expert tree inspections

Scheduled expert tree surveys take place every year by professional surveyors. The surveyors will generally only assess Devon County Council-owned trees within the limits of the highway, or Devon County Council-owned trees that are outside the limits of the highway, but which could affect the highway.

These inspections take place throughout the summer on high-use main roads, including A and B roads, and on the highway around high-risk target sites, such as near schools and hospitals.

Since 2020, we have been carrying out these inspections, on a district-by-district basis, in the following order:

  • Teignbridge
  • South Hams
  • West Devon
  • Exeter
  • Mid Devon
  • East Devon
  • Torridge
  • North Devon

In 2018 and 2019, we were carrying out these inspections on a two-year rolling cycle, on the below basis:

  • In odd-numbered years we were inspecting trees in the following districts, in this order: Teignbridge, East Devon, Torridge and West Devon.
  • In even-numbered years we were inspecting trees in the following districts, in this order: Exeter, North Devon, Mid Devon and South Hams.

Prior to 2018, we carried out the inspections on a three-yearly cycle.

We increased the inspection frequency in 2018, and again in 2020, as a result of the continued spread of Ash Dieback.

We expect landowners to arrange for trees on their land to be privately surveyed to ensure public safety.

Ad-hoc expert inspections may be carried out in response to reports from the public or our own officers. Occasionally this will be for privately owned trees. If the tree presents a significant enough danger to the highway, we will write to the tree’s owner advising them of the action they need to take to remove the threat to the highway.

What landowners are expected to do

You are responsible for maintaining and inspecting your own trees regularly. We suggest using a professional tree expert to inspect your trees and to particularly check for trees that:

  • risk falling onto the road or footway
  • obstruct road signs or street lighting
  • hang low and prevent safe passage for vehicles, including high-sided vehicles
  • prevent safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists on footways
  • have damage, ill-health or disease

For more information about maintaining your trees and vegetation see the information for landowners.

Highway checks

We carry out regular safety inspections of the highway, where we look for any kind of defect. These inspections are not carried out by arboricultural experts, although the inspectors do have a basic level of training in identifying tree hazards.

Roads, footways, and cycleways are inspected according to their strategic importance. Our Safety Inspection Manual explains how often we inspect, the criteria we use to decide if something is a safety defect, and what we will do about any defects we find.

What action we take

Any trees and vegetation that qualify as a safety defect will be identified and dealt with in accordance with our Safety Inspection Manual. This applies to trees that are maintained by DCC, as well as trees that are privately owned.