Tree Preservation Order (TPOs) Tree work applications
What is a TPO?
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) gives legal protection to an individual tree, group of trees, area or woodland.
If your site is also covered by a conservation area, all tree works can be included on one form provided the required information is supplied.
Carrying out unauthorised work on a protected tree is a criminal offence. You could be fined up to £20,000 and will be required to plant a new tree.
I would like to do some tree work, what do I do?
If you need to submit an application and you are not sure what to apply for, or what would be good or appropriate tree management, it is best to discuss your options with a tree surgeon first. Unfortunately the Council are unable to offer pre-application site visits. Submit your application in plenty of time before you want the works to be undertaken, permission lasts for two years but it can take up to eight weeks for an application to be processed.
Find the right tree surgeon for you through the Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor Directory. You should choose your contractor carefully, please do not use tradespeople who knock on your door without being invited. Contractors have adequate public and employer’s liability insurance and a licence to carry waste. No tree surgeon has special permission to prune protected trees without submitting a notification.
Please be aware that there are specific meanings to different pruning and woodland works, using these incorrectly can result in an invalid application or a refusal.
Once you know what works you want to apply for go to the Planning Portal to submit a tree works application.
I have a woodland what do I do?
If you need to submit an application and you are not sure what to apply for or what would be good or appropriate tree or woodland management it is best to discuss your options with a specialist woodland consultant first. Unfortunately the Council are unable to offer pre-application site visits. The woodland consultant will be able to clarify if a Forestry Commission felling licence is required rather than a TPO application.
More information about TPO’d woodlands can be found on the government website.
Find the right woodland consultant through the Institute of Chartered Foresters.
Telling the Council what works you want to do
The easiest and quickest way to submit a tree works application is via the Planning Portal. The Planning Portal will take you through all the required information and will not allow you to submit an application with anything important missing. A reputable tree surgeon will submit your tree works application for you.
To be valid, an application for works to trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order must:
- be made to the authority on the standard application form published by the Secretary of State and available on the Planning Portal website
- include the information required by the form (the guidance notes for the standard form help applicants provide the necessary information)
- be accompanied by a plan which clearly identifies the tree or trees on which work is proposed
- be accompanied by such information as is necessary to clearly specify the work for which consent is sought
- state the reasons for making the application
- be accompanied, as applicable, by appropriate evidence describing any structural damage to property or in relation to tree health or safety
You might find it helpful to include a photograph of the tree or situation. Ensure the application tree is in the centre of the photograph and don’t stand too close! If possible include the whole of the tree from ground level to a bit of sky above the very top.
Not providing a reason/justification for tree works and ambiguous or incomplete proposals are the most common reason for invalidation.
- If there are multiple trees on the application, make sure you say what works apply to which tree and it matches the tree location plan.
- Pruning terms have specific meanings. If ambiguous, the Council will infer the definition in the British Standard 3998:2010 Tree work recommendations or an arboricultural dictionary. If you are not sure, seek the advice of a tree surgeon.
- Every type of works needs quantifying.
Acknowledgement and validation
If the tree works application is submitted via the Planning Portal you will receive a submission acknowledgement. This means the application has been passed to the Council.
Once the Council has received the application it is checked to see if all the required information has been provided and the proposed tree works can be easily understood.
If there is missing information or the proposal is not clear the Council will invalidate the application and let the applicant/agent know. This may result in the applicant or agent having to resubmit the application.
If all the information has been provided and the proposal is clear the application is passed for assessment and an acknowledgment is sent out to the applicant/agent.
What happens to my application?
Once the tree works application is validated, the Trees Officer reviews the proposed works and reasons/justifications. A site visit may be undertaken. Tree works application are considered in relation to the trees health and structural condition, the amenity value of the tree(s), the type and scale of the proposed works and the reasons or justification for the works. The Council might contact you for further information or to suggest amending the proposal.
The most likely outcomes to an application are:
- approve with conditions,
- part approve / part refuse also known as a split decision, or
- refuse consent.
Unfortunately we can only expedite genuine emergency tree work applications.
Publicity and public records
Tree works applications do not need to be publicised but are available on the Council website. The Council will endeavour to contact tree owners when a neighbour submits an application. The parishes are automatically notified of all applications.
The Council does keep a public register of all tree work applications. All applications submitted after October 2016 are available online on the planning search facility.
If you are struggling to find an application please follow this guide [PDF, 0.4MB].
Why do I have conditions?
The Council can impose conditions to ensure that tree work or planting is carried out in accordance with good arboricultural practice. Conditions may:
- relate to the planting of replacement trees,
- require further approvals to be obtained from the person giving the consent,
- regulate the standard of the authorised work,
- allow repeated operations to be carried out (works may be carried out only once unless a condition specifies otherwise), and/or
- impose a time limit on the duration of consent other than the default 2 year period.
I want to appeal a decision or condition
Information on how to appeal is provided on every decision notice. If you need this information, please look up the decision notice on the Councils website. Alternatively, more information can be found on the government website
Only the tree owner, agent or applicant can appeal; neighbours and third parties cannot create an appeal.
Pruning trees without permission
Anyone who undertakes, commissions or permits tree works or damages a TPO’d tree without permission is guilty of a criminal offence. This can lead to prosecution with fines of up to £20,000. In serious cases offenders may be dealt with by the Crown Court, where an unlimited fine can be imposed.
Anyone can report unauthorised tree work or damage to protected trees via our Planning Enforcement page. Please check the public records first.
I have an emergency what do I do?
If you think you have an emergency the best thing to do is to contact a tree surgeon or arborist.
Find the right tree surgeon for you through the Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor Directory. You should choose your contractor carefully, please do not use tradespeople who knock on your door without being invited. Contractors have adequate public and employer’s liability insurance and a licence to carry waste.
The tree surgeon will assess if there is an immediate risk of serious harm. If there is sufficient evidence there is an immediate problem, they can request the Council processes the tree works notification within five days.
I want to know more
The most detailed guide to Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas can be found on the government website.