Tree Preservation Orders
Many trees in the District are protected either by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) or by them being located in a designated Conservation Area. More information about trees in conservation areas is available on our trees in conservation areas page.
What is a TPO and what restrictions are there?
Local Councils are able to make Tree Preservation Orders ('TPOs') in order to protect individual trees, groups of trees or woodlands. A TPO can be made if the Council considers the tree(s) makes an important contribution to the amenity of the local landscape. Trees subject of a TPO cannot be cut down, uprooted, topped, lopped, wilfully damaged or wilfully destroyed, without the Council's consent in advance of the works.
TPOs are subject to the following legislation:
- The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)
- The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012
As well as TPOs, certain trees may also be protected by planning condition.
How do I find out if a tree is the subject of a TPO or planning condition?
You can find this out by contacting the Council who hold a range of information on protected trees.
Who is responsible for maintaining trees protected by a TPO?
Responsibility for maintaining the tree(s) rests with the tree owner. Consent is required from the Council before undertaking any works.
How do I apply to carry out works to a tree protected by a TPO?
Applications can be made online via the Planning Portal - 'Tree works: Trees in conservation areas/subject to TPOs' should be selected as the Application Type.
Alternatively, you can download a blank form and send the completed form to the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidance on completing the form can be viewed by clicking here.
You may apply yourself, or you may like to ask a reputable tree contractor/tree surgeon to apply your behalf.
When your application has been validated, the Council will seek to determine your application within 8 weeks. Prior to determining your application the Council will visit your property to make a visual assessment of the tree(s).
What is the fee for an application to carry out works to a TPO tree?
This type of application is free of charge.
Are there circumstances when consent is not required?
There are a few exceptions to the Regulations, such as:
- If the tree is dead.
- If the tree is imminently dangerous. The danger must be present, and works must be urgently necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm. In almost all circumstances a written notice must be given to the Council at least 5 days in advance of the date on which the works are to take place).
- If the works are limited to the removal of dead wood from an otherwise healthy tree.
- If you are obliged to carry out work by an Act of Parliament. This exemption most commonly applies to trees that overhang a public highway and is applicable when you have been issued with an enforcement notice requiring you to maintain statutory clearance of the highway.
- If the work has been authorised by a full planning permission which is to be immediately commenced. This exemption does not apply to outline planning permissions or to permitted development.
- If the tree is a fruit tree, cultivated for the production of fruit in accordance with a business or trade (such as a commercial orchard).
- If the work is to be carried out in accordance with a Forestry Commission grant scheme, or if a felling licence has been granted by the Forestry Commission. If the works are required in order to prevent or control a nuisance (this exemption only applies to the legal definition of and 'actionable nuisance').
If you think you may benefit from one of the above exemptions, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from our Tree Officer prior to carrying out any work.
Are there any other legal restrictions associated with trees?
There may be other legal restrictions that prevent works being carried out to trees. These restrictions include but are not limited to:
- Tree felling or maintenance during nesting seasons, or if nesting birds are present.
- Tree felling or maintenance that may interfere with the habitats of protected species such as bats.
What are the penalties associated with TPO offences?
If you deliberately destroy a tree subject of a TPO, or if you damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £20,000 if convicted in the Magistrates' Court. Other unauthorised works could lead to a fine of up to £2,500. The Council may also require you to plant a replacement tree.