Trees & Television Digital Reception

Trees can have an effect on TV reception. Interference to signals tends to be worse when trees are in full leaf and during bad weather conditions. Satellite and terrestrial reception are more sensitive to interference than the now redundant analogue television system and this guidance note relates to digital reception.

TV reception and the law
There is no legal requirement to rectify a loss of television or radio service in respect of trees and interference is not at present a legal 'nuisance' as defined in UK law. The TV licence is a permit to operate a television receiver, it does not guarantee any reception and it therefore follows that there is no legal right to reception. There are no court precedents in respect of trees interfering with TV reception.

What to do if you have a suspected problem
Interference is frequently caused by inadequate or faulty aerial installations, resulting in poor signal to the receiver, and/or defective or deficient receiving apparatus. It is therefore important to ensure that such causes have been ruled out and other faults or contributing factors resolved.

If you suspect trees may be interfering with signal reception you are advised to contact an approved installer [see below] to ensure the following:

  • Equipment is installed correctly and the parts and connectors are in good condition, correctly located and securely attached to the property.
  • Accurately positioned and aligned including adjustment to the vertical and lateral positioning to receive the strongest signal.
  • Relocating the dish/aerial further from the trees or higher on the property to improve the signal where necessary.
  • Installation of boosters, amplifiers and high quality low loss cable will often improve reception.
  • Ensure that interference generated by a variety of electrical systems or electrical appliances is identified and remedied.
  • Interference from other transmitters such as emergency services, CB radio, mobile phones etc. will frequently degrade reception.

If the system is found to be in full working order by a qualified engineer and other possible faults ruled out, you are advised to obtain written confirmation from the engineer who assessed the system that trees are the cause of signal degradation.

What to do next

Trees within your ownership.
You are advised to seek advice and guidance from the Council regarding any Statutory Controls, such as Tree Preservation Orders or Conservation Areas in relation to any trees. If constraints are present, you will need to make a formal application to the Council for consent of any tree works. Failure to obtain consent could render you liable to prosecution, a criminal record and a fine.

Trees within third party ownership
If the trees are on privately owned land, you are advised to approach the landowner and discuss the issues regarding television reception. They are not legally obliged to undertake or agree to carry out works to mitigate the situation. However, liaison with the landowner can frequently result in a mutual agreement to carry out works, possibly with shared costs. Again, it is essential to determine if any Statutory Controls apply before undertaking tree works.
Council owned trees or protected trees.

In cases where a report from a qualified engineer is presented in support of a request for works to a Council tree or a formal application for works to a protected tree, the Council may well agree to or give consent to work that is reasonable and within good Arboricultural practice. The Council are unlikely to agree to excessive works that would result in the removal or loss of a tree or trees, reduction in safe, useful life expectancy or loss of visual amenity.
Works to Council owned trees are likely to only be carried out when resources allow and after high priority works such as those for health and safety and compliance with the Highways Act.

The council will not agree to:

  • Remove or significantly reduce tree(s) where TV reception is the sole reason for the works.
  • Undertake works where there is doubt on the cause of the poor reception.
  • Undertake works to trees where other options for resolving the issue have not been attempted.

Professional aerial installers
Two organisations are accredited installers of Digital equipment: