Tree Preservation Orders

Tree Preservation Orders

A Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) gives legal protection to an individual tree, group of trees, area or woodland. Carrying out unauthorised work on a protected tree is a criminal offence.

TPOs are placed on trees which are considered exceptionally important, either within the district or locally, for their:

  • size and form
  • future potential as an amenity
  • rarity, cultural or historic value
  • contribution to and relationship with the landscape
  • contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area

Provided the trees are in reasonable health and structural condition, any type of tree can be protected including any:

  • species (native or non-native)
  • type ornamental, fruit, parkland, woodland or forest trees (but not bushes or shrubs)
  • location but usually with public visibility (including hedgerow trees but not hedgerows)

TPOs can’t be used to protect every tree in a neighbourhood nor stop approved building development or infrastructure improvements. Orders are only issued in locations or on trees where it is considered expedient to protect the trees.

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

The Councils role is to consider any tree work applications made to it.

The Council keeps a public register of all tree work applications. All notices submitted after October 2016 are available online on our planning search facility.

If you are struggling to find an application please follow this guide.

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 for tree works applications or notifications or building applications. 

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 application within five days.

The most detailed guide to Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas can be found on the government website.

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