Tree Preservation Orders

A Tree Preservation Orders (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.

Trees in Conservation Areas have protection even if they don't have a TPO.

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.

Tree Preservation Orders

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) 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. 

You could be fined up to £20,000 and will be required to plant a new tree.

All types of trees can be the subject of a TPO:

  • Native trees
  • ornamental trees
  • fruit trees
  • hedgerow trees 
  • although hedges, bushes, and shrubs cannot.


Checking a Tree Preservation Order

Before you start work on any tree, we recommend that you check its status first.

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 shown as blue shapes
  • Conservation Areas are surrounded by a pink line
  • please be sure to check what side of this line the trees are because it can be easy to get this wrong.
  • 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.

TIP – If you untick the ‘applications’ layer it will make the map much clearer by removing all of the planning application red plotting lines.

Once you know the status of the tree then ask a professional tree surgeon or arborist to advise you and undertake any work needed.

Who is responsible for a protected tree?

The owner of a protected tree is responsible for its maintenance, condition and any damage it causes. We do not take on responsibility for maintaining trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order.

However, permission must still be sought from us before carrying out most types of work.

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

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.

Applying for a tree preservation order

Anyone can request a tree preservation order.

Apply online using the Planning Portal.

There's less likely to be any delays over the processing of your application by applying online.

Alternatively, you can apply directly to us by post (we do not accept applications by email).
A full and clear specification (detailed description) of the tree works must be provided – we cannot validate unclear applications.

Please download and use this application form and these guidance notes.

If you are making an application manually, please send it by post to:

Trees and Landscape Officer
South Cambridegshire Hall
Cambourne Business Park
Cambourne
Cambridge
CB23 6EA

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 a tree works application using the Planning Portal to avoid any delays over the processing of your application.

Alternatively, you can make your application manually.

Please download and use this application form and these guidance notes.

If you are making an application manually please send it by post to:

Trees and Landscape Officer
South Cambridegshire Hall
Cambourne Business Park
Cambourne
Cambridge
CB23 6EA

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

Application Process

Once we receive 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.


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.

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.

Contact Details