Tree Preservation Orders protect trees which bring significant benefits to an area. They might offer shade to a public path, be a key part of a particular view or landscape, or have specific historic or rare value. TPOs are a legal order and it is illegal to fail to comply with one so be sure you know what you can and can’t do.
What is prohibited?
Tree Preservation Orders prohibit a variety of activities. These include:
- Cutting down
- Wilful damage
- Wilful destruction
If you are the tree owner, you are legally required not to carry out any of these activities, or cause or permit them to occur.
What work can I carry out?
Trees with TPOs can have tree surgery work done on them. To do this, you must submit an application to the local authority. Additionally, you should consult an arboricultural specialist to help you with this application as the council will expect work on TPO protected trees to meet the requirements of sound arboriculture. Your application may also need supporting evidence to prove why your local authority should allow you to carry out the work.
Are there any exceptions to Tree Preservation Orders?
You can carry out some work on TPO protected trees without an application to the local authority. These exceptions include:
- When the work is on dead or dangerous trees and branches
- If the work is to prevent or abate a nuisance
- When the work is necessary to implement building work that has been granted full planning permission
- If the work is required to comply with an Act of Parliament, for example if the Forestry Commission has granted a separate Felling License
You can remove dead branches without informing the local authority. Also, you can cut down dead trees, but you must give five days written notice to the council before carrying this out.
When there is an immediate risk of serious harm, for example if there is risk of injury to a passing pedestrian or damage to property, you can start work immediately. Then, you must notify the local authority as soon as possible after you carry out this work. A tree surgeon can only carry out the work to remove the risk of serious harm.
If the council intends on applying a Tree Preservation Order to a tree that you own, they will inform you in writing that they have submitted a TPO. You have 28 days to lodge an objection to this order. There is no requirement that your objection be on any specific grounds. Any person can either object or support a TPO.
If you would like to protect a tree, you may seek a TPO on a tree by writing to your local authority. This letter must clearly identify the tree or group of trees and include your reasons.
To find out more about Tree Preservation Orders in your area, contact your local authority’s Arboricultural Officer. They will be able to offer support and guidance if you intend to carry out work on a tree.