Tree preservation orders

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) gives legal protection to an individual tree, group of trees or woodland.

Trees may be protected due to their landscape value, setting in a built up area, historical value or interest within a local area. Carrying out unauthorised work on a protected tree is a criminal offence.

Trees in conservation areas have protection even if they don't have a TPO. An application for permission to carry out work on trees in these areas must be submitted at least six weeks before any work is carried out.

The only exception is if a tree is dead or dangerous, when you only need to give us five days notice in writing.

You can find out if trees are legally protected with a TPO, or are in a conservation area on our District Planning Map:

  • make sure that you select TPOs and conservation areas in the map legend
  • TPOs are blue polygons and conservation areas are within the pink line
  • Left click on the map to show details of TPOs and conservation areas
  • Open the TPO link in the dialogue box to view the original TPO map
  • IMPORTANT - the position of a TPO on our maps is indicative and not legally binding. The original TPO map takes legal precedence.

Tree Preservation Orders

A Tree Preservation Order makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a protected tree if you don't have consent from us to carry out the work.

We do not take on responsibility for maintaining trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order, this remains with the tree owner.

When a Tree Preservation Order is made we send a copy to the owner/occupier of the property/land and to all adjacent neighbours. A copy of the order may also be posted on the site. Copies are sent to the Parish Council, utility companies and held at our office in Cambourne. If you would like to look at copies of TPOs, you will need to make an appointment.

If you object to a TPO we have issued you have 28 days to make a written objection. This should be sent to the Trees and Landscape Officer.

Applying for a tree preservation order

Anyone can request a tree preservation order by emailing trees.andlandscapes@scambs.gov.uk, however it is down to us as an authority to determine whether the tree(s) have the attributes for a preservation order being the amenity value and whether they are in a good physical condition.

Works on protected trees

Customers are encouraged to make tree work applications using the Planning Portal The end result is that there is less likely to be any delays over the processing of your application.

Alternatively, you can make your application manually using the form available and please use the guidance notes here to help you. If you are making an application manually please either send it by email to trees.andlandscapes@scambs.gov.uk or send it by post.

If you need to find out if trees are protected by a TPO or Conservation Area, please view the planning maps on the our website. TPOs are shown as bright blue shapes and Conservation Areas are surrounded by a pink line. Either side of this pink line will be inside the Conservation Area or outside of it. Please be sure to check what side of this line the trees are because it can be easy to get this wrong. TIP – If you untick the ‘applications’ layer it will make the map much clearer by removing all of the planning application red plotting lines.

If you do not own the tree(s) you must have written consent from the owner before any permitted work begins.

If you are employing a tree surgeon, they may be able to make the application on your behalf.

Once we recieve your application there is an eight-week consultation process. We will make a site visit and will either give consent, refuse consent or give conditional consent. The tree(s) owner has the right to appeal against any refusal of consent.

Penalties

Carrying out work on protected trees without our consent is a criminal offence. It 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.

Guidance relating to trees and the Law from the Department of Communities and Local Government

Exemptions

There are exemptions from the legislation, including trees that are dead,dying or dangerous. However, we must be contacted for permission to carry out any works before they go ahead.

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