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Tree Preservation Orders

Local planning authorities have specific powers to protect trees by making tree preservation orders.

Special provisions also apply to trees within conservation areas.

This is for the benefit of tree owners, the general public and amenity groups and answers some of the most common questions about the tree preservation procedures. It is for guidance only and is not a statement of the law. You should consult a solicitor if you are unsure of your legal rights or obligations.

What is a tree preservation order?

It is an order made by us which in general makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without our permission.

How can I check if a tree has a preservation order placed on it?

An official search made before you purchase a property should reveal the existence of a tree preservation order (or whether your property is in a conservation area). Make sure your solicitor tells you if any trees are protected.

Search for TPOs on a map

If you are not sure contact us on 01562 732928 or email our Tree and Biodiersity Officer

What is the purpose of a tree preservation order?

To protect trees for the public's enjoyment. This is particularly important where trees are in immediate danger.

What type of trees can be covered by an order?

All types, including hedgerow trees, but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. The order can cover anything from a single tree to woodlands.

If I see work being carried out on a protected tree, how can I find out of the owner has permission?

Details of approved works are available on our planning applications page simply enter the address of the property to gain access to the information you require. 

There are trees which I think should be protected. What can I do?

Contact us giving details of the trees, including a map if possible, and the reasons why you think the trees should be protected.

Does an order come into effect immediately?

If we make an order it will come into effect immediately and will continue for six months, or until it is confirmed, whichever comes first. When the we confirm the order we can modify it, for example to exclude some of the trees.

How will I know when a local planning authority makes a tree preservation order?

We will write to the owner and other interested parties serving notice of the making of the order. We will also leave a copy of the order at a convenient place for public inspection.

How can I object to or express support for an order?

If you or anyone else wants to object to or support an order, contact the Arboricultural Officer within 28 days of the service of the notice saying why and giving details of the relevant trees. We will take these comments into account when it decides whether to confirm the order. If appropriate, it may hold a public local inquiry.

Does the Council then become responsible for looking after the trees?

No. The owner remains responsible for the trees, their condition and any damage they may cause. But they must get our permission to carry out work on them, unless they are dying, dead or dangerous.

Are there any extra restrictions in a Conservation Area?

See Trees in Conservation Areas

How are trees on development sites affected?

Trees on development sites can be protected by tree preservation orders or by conditions attached to the planning permission, or both. Planning conditions may also require you to plant trees which may be covered by a tree preservation order. The order will take effect once they are planted.

Can I carry out work on protected trees which are in the way of proposed development?

You can only cut down or cut back protected trees if they are directly in the way of development which is about to start, for which you have detailed planning permission. Check first with us. We may prosecute you if we think you have cut down or cut back excessively.
If the development does not require planning permission (for example, putting up a garden shed you must apply to us for permission under the tree preservation order in the normal way.

Can I stop planning permission being granted - or prevent approved development being carried out - by getting a tree preservation order imposed on tree on the site?

No. A tree preservation order will not prevent planning permission being granted. But we will consider the risk to protected trees when deciding planning applications.
Once planning permission is granted, any felling may be carried out which is directly required to enable the development to go ahead.

What if I want to carry out work on a protected tree?

See Works to Protected Trees

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