Trees in conservation areas

Trees in conservation areas

Trees in conservation areas have protection even if they don't have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Carrying out unauthorised work on a protected tree is a criminal offence.

 

If you live in a Conservation Area and are planning to carry out work on any trees, legally you must give us six weeks written notice before work begins. If you are also undertaking works to a tree with a Tree Preservation Order, all tree works can be included on one form, provided the required information is supplied.

Do you know if you live in a conservation area? If not, please take a look at conservation webpages.

Firstly see if you need to let the Council know about your tree works. All trees with one or more stems (trunks) with a diameter over 75 millimetres at 1.5 metres above ground level need to submit a notice. The diameter of the tree is to be measured over the bark of the tree.

If you need to submit a notification 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.

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.

Once you know what works you want to apply for go to the Planning Portal to submit a tree works notification.

The easiest and quickest way to submit a tree works notice is via the Planning Portal. The Planning Portal will take you through all the required information and will not allow you to submit a notice with anything important missing. A reputable tree surgeon will submit your tree works notice for you.

The tree works notice should include:

  • the date of the section 211 notice,
  • the name of the applicant person who served it,
  • the address of the land where the tree stands,
  • the proposed work (it is helpful to say why the works are needed), and
  • a tree location plan.

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.

An ambiguous or incomplete proposal is the most common reason for invalidation.

  • If there are multiple trees on the notice, 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.

Once the tree works notice is validated the Trees Officer reviews the proposed works and may undertake a site visit. Tree works notices are considered in relation to the trees health and structural condition, the amenity value of the tree(s) and the type and scale of the proposed works. The Council also pays attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the conservation area. The Council might contact you for further information or to suggest amending the tree works notice.

There are three possible outcomes to a tree work notice:

  • ‘no objection’ and inform the person who gave notice that the work can go ahead,
  • ‘objection’ and make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), or
  • decide not to make an Order and allow the 6-week notice period to end, after which the proposed work may be done within 2 years of the date of the notice.

Unfortunately the Council can only expedite genuine emergency tree work notices.

Conservation area tree works notices do not need to be publicised but are available to view on the Councils website. The Council will endeavour to contact tree owners when a neighbour submits a notice. The parishes are automatically notified of all tree work notices.

 The Council does keep a public register of all tree work notices. All notices submitted after October 2016 are available online. 

If you are struggling to find a tree works notice please follow our handy guide.

If a tree in a conservation area is removed because it is dead or presents an immediate risk of serious harm the land owner has a duty to replace the tree. This also applies to trees in a conservation area which are removed, uprooted or destroyed without giving the appropriate notice to the Council. The landowner has a duty to plant another tree of an appropriate size and species at the same place as soon as they reasonably can.

Should a required tree not be planted, the Council may enforce this duty by serving a tree replacement notice.

Anyone who undertakes, commissions or permits tree works or damage to a tree in a conservation area without giving the appropriate notice to the Council 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.

If you think you have a tree 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.

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

If the tree works notice is submitted via the Planning Portal you will receive a submission acknowledgement. This means the tree works notice has been passed to the Council.

Once the Council has received the tree works notice 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 notice and let the applicant/agent know. This may result in the applicant or agent having to resubmit the tree works notice.

If all the information has been provided and the proposal is clear the tree works notice is passed for assessment and an acknowledgement is sent out to the applicant/agent.

Parish Councils apply using the same process as other applicants, via the Planning Portal.

If the trees stand in a Church of England graveyard within a conservation area, or there are Tree Preservation Orders, you will need to submit a tree works notice to South Cambs District Council and a faculty application to the Diocese of Ely.

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