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General Information on Tree Preservation Orders

About tree preservation orders

The Council has the power to make Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) in order to give permanent protection to trees within the Area for the benefit of the public. Once TPOs are made the trees are immediately protected but objections can be made within 28 days and will be taken into account before a decision is made about confirmation.

To be considered suitable for inclusion in a TPO, a tree would normally have to be visible from a public view point, such as a road or footpath and make a significant contribution to the amenity of the area. It should also be an attractive specimen in good health with a reasonable life expectancy ahead of it.

Trees may be protected as individual specimens, as groups (where the trees form a feature as a group rather than as individual specimens) or in some circumstances as woodlands.

There is also a type of TPO known as an "area order" which protects all the trees within a defined boundary but now these are normally used only in emergency situations where it is not possible to survey the trees in detail before the TPO is made. "Area orders" are often replaced by one of the three preceding types of order once such a survey has been carried out.

Every TPO made increases the workload of the Area Council's staff with a subsequent effect on expenditure and local taxes so the Council will usually only make TPOs when the trees concerned are under some form of threat to their health or continued existence.

Applications for work to protected trees

From time to time some tree surgery may be advisable to some trees, particularly older specimens, and the TPO legislation allows for this. Once a tree is included in an Order the owner is required to obtain the consent of the Area Council before carrying out most work to it. The Area Council will normally allow reasonable management work, especially when this is supported by written advice from a reputable tree surgeon.

An application must be made on the form Application for consent for Work to Trees (Form 031) and no fee is payable. It takes up to eight weeks for a decision to be made: you are therefore advised to apply well before you intend to carry out work.

You do not need the permission of the Council to carry out works to trees that are dead, or present an urgent and serious safety risk. However, you are required to give the Council at least five days notice of the proposed work unless there is an urgent risk to safety, in which case you should inform the Council as soon as practicable.

If the tree is dead, or an urgent safety risk and is removed, it should be replaced by another tree of appropriate size and species unless it is within a woodland, and the original TPO shall apply to the replacement tree.

Unauthorised Work to Preserved Trees

It can be a criminal offence to carry out of work on a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order without the prior approval in writing of the Area Council. If you cut, down uproot or wilfully destroy a tree or wilfully damage, top or lop a tree a manner likely to destroy it you can be fined up to £20,000 on conviction in a Magistrates Court.

For other offences where the tree is not killed, such as lopping, the fines can be up to £2,500. You would normally also have to plant an appropriate replacement tree if a tree is removed or destroyed.

GOV.UK - Protected trees: A guide to tree preservation procedures