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Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)



Legislation concerning Tree Preservation Orders is contained within The Town and Country Panning Act 1990. The following notes serve as a very brief summary of the legislation, anyone wishing to learn more on this subject should contact their Local Authority for leaflets and information.

If you have any doubts regarding Tree Preservation Orders you should contact your Local Tree Officer, they are paid by you, to serve you, so make use of them!

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority (LPA) in respect of trees. The order makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, damage or destroy the tree or trees in question. A TPO can apply to a single tree, a group of trees or a woodland. TPO's can only apply to trees, they can not apply to bushes, shrubs or hedges (unless the hedge has reverted back to a line of individual trees). The tree under order can be of any size, species or age.

The LPA may make a TPO if it is deemed that the tree offers amenity value to the surrounding area, and that its loss would have a significant impact on the environment and its enjoyment by the public. To this end, the tree(s) would normally be visible from a public place and would contribute to the landscape in some way. The LPA has to justify the placement of a TPO and the tree owner can object against the placement of such an order.  

A TPO does not mean that the LPA now owns the tree nor does it mean that they are responsible for the cost of its maintenance!

It is important not to confuse trees subject to TPO's with trees located within Conservation Areas; the legislation is completely different.

The removal of trees from within Woodlands & Forests may also require permission from the Forestry Commission, see the leaflet 'Tree Felling - Getting Permission' for further details.

As outlined above a TPO exists to prevent anyone from felling or pruning the tree without the consent of the Local Planning Authority (LPA).This does not necessarily mean that you cant eventually prune or fell the trees, it simply means that you must obtain permission from the LPA first.

There are exemptions in the Act which allows a tree owner to carry out some works without such consent. This applies to the removal of dead, dying or dangerous trees or parts of trees. A common example would be the removal of dead wood (dead branches). A tree owner would be prudent to provide the LPA with 5 days notice prior to cutting down a tree which they deem as being dead, dying or dangerous; unless such works are required in an emergency. It is the tree owners responsibility to provide proof that the tree was indeed dead, dying or dangerous should this exemption be challenged; hence, it is advisable always to request an inspection by a Local Tree Officer prior to carrying out such felling operations.

Other exemptions include subjects such as works by Utility Companies, trees on Airports, Defence Installations, Planning Permission etc; see the full T&C Act for full details.

The courts have powers to fine anyone contravening a TPO. The maximum fines are 20,000 for destroying a tree and up to 2,500 for anyone who does not completely destroy a tree but has carried out some other works without consent. It is no defence for a defendant to plead that they were unaware that a TPO existed on a particular tree unless the LPA were the cause of such ignorance.

Once the LPA have served the initial notice, any objections to the Tree Preservation Order must be made in writing within 28 days. The TPO must be confirmed by the LPA within 6 months for it to become permanent, otherwise it will lapse (the council can confirm it at a later date).

Anyone wishing to carry out works to a tree must make their application in writing, state the reasons for making the application, the works required and make it clear which trees the application relates to. The applicant is under no obligation to complete the LPA's own forms that they may have produced for this purpose. LPA's should respond to applications for works within a period of 2 months (8 weeks). Should the LPA refuse to grant permission for the requested works the applicant may appeal to the Secretary of State; this should normally be made within 28 days. Appeals can be made in respect of other items such as: conditions imposed with any consent, article 5 certificate, failure for the LPA to respond to an application within the 2 months etc.

An application form for carrying out works to trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders can be downloaded from this site in Microsoft Word format. Once you have printed out and filled in the form you will need to send it to your local council offices whose name and address can usually be found in the front pages of a local telephone directory.

This text is open to modification. If you have an item to add or change please send details.

2000 Chris Skellern. AIE.    Home  | News | A-Z Index  | Resources  |  Contact AIE  |  Terms of Use