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Compensation for Tree Root Damage: A Different Approach - Gabriel Fay, DWF LLP

02/03/17. We are all familiar with actions in nuisance for injunctions and damages in respect of alleged tree root subsidence. In this latest article for local authorities, Gabriel Fay looks at an interesting recent case, Burge & Anor v South Gloucestershire Council, where instead of following this traditional approach in seeking compensation for such damage, the claimants brought a claim against the Council under Section 203 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.


The facts of this case are not unique but cannot be said to be the norm. The chronology in the case is important and can be summarised as follows:

The property in question was built in 1997 and was constructed on shrinkable clay. In 2003 the claimants added a conservatory to their house.

In 2006 cracks to the rear of the house and the conservatory appeared and were reported to the householder’s insurers. The damage was determined to have been caused by desiccation of the clay soil by a number of trees on the property itself and also by a large oak tree situated on the Council’s land.

The investigation revealed that the cracks to the house itself were not caused by...

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