Tree Preservation Orders
What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?
A 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
What types of tree can be protected?
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.
Who is responsible for a TPO’d tree?
The (land) owner of a protected tree is responsible for its maintenance, condition and any damage it causes. We do not take on the responsibility for maintaining trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order.
Our role is to consider any tree work applications made to it.
How do I apply to undertake some tree work?
If you want to apply to undertake some tree work, please read our page on Tree Preservation Order (TPOs) Tree Work Applications.
Public register of all tree work applications
Pruning trees without telling us
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.
I might purchase a property which includes a TPO on it.
If you are considering purchasing a house where there is a TPO in the garden, give special consideration whether you want to live with the tree at its current and future proportions. If you are not sure how tall or broad the tree will get when fully mature, or other facets of living with a tree you might want to ask a reputable tree surgeon.
Living with a tree can provide you with food, leaf litter and shade, connect you with other wildlife, screen you from the neighbours, highlight the seasons, look stunning and create pleasant fragrances or sounds in the garden.
Trees can also shed twigs, leaves, seeds, pollen and blossom on an off throughout the year. Be a home for creatures from noisy rookeries to honeydew dropping aphids. Make it more difficult to grow ground cover or other plants under some tree species. Cast shade.
We are unable to review TPO’s by request. We can provide a copy of the Order to your solicitor on request, but the public register is available online. You are welcome to submit a tree works application before you purchase but these can take up to eight weeks to determine and cannot be expedited.
The Order is out of date on my property
Currently we are unable to revoke or modify Orders or parts of Orders on request. We periodically review existing Orders and consider if they are still relevant, if they need updating and reserve them as necessary.
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 we process the tree works application within 5 days.
How to request a new TPO
Please see our requesting a new Tree Preservation Order (TPO) page for request details.
Can a hedgerow be TPO’d?
Hedgerows are not eligible for a TPO. Trees within a hedgerow can be protected though. Please carefully check the Order associated with a hedgerow.
Some hedgerows are protected under The Hedgerow Regulations 1997. See our hedgerows and hedges webpage for more information.
I want to know more about TPOs
The most detailed guide to Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas can be found on the government website.
Are there other ways to recognise locally important trees?
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