Tree Preservation Orders

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority in England to protect specific  trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity which makes it a criminal offence to cut down, prune, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy a tree (including its roots) without written consent from the Local Planning Authority.

Note: Any unauthorised works to a tree covered by a TPO is a strict liability offence carrying a maximum penalty of £20,000 per tree in the Magistrates Court, or unlimited if the case is heard in the Crown Court.

Further details of Tree protection orders can be accessed on the government website (external link)

When can the Council make a TPO?

The criteria for making a TPO is strictly defined and they can only be made for a tree or trees that are, or will be in the future, of amenity value. This normally means that the trees that can be protected are, or will be, visible from a public road, footpath or open space. A TPO can be placed on any tree, group of trees and/or woodland area.

Note: A TPO goes with the land and unless it is formally revoked by the Council, it never 'runs out'. By making a TPO, the Council in no way acquires the tree and it remains in the care and control of the landowner.

Can I ask for a tree to be protected?

Yes, you can submit a request in writing to the Tree Officers, including photographs of the tree(s) and the reasons why you feel it should be protected. We will then consider your request. Each tree or group of trees will be assessed on their own merits. However, it will help officers in making their assessment if you could consider the following in your reasons:

Does the tree have public amenity value? (This means that the tree must be visible from a public place (for example a public road, footpath, park or open space) and make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area. Can you imagine the street without that particular tree? What would it be like? Would you notice its absence?)
Is there a known or foreseeable threat to the tree? (If there is no immediate threat of a tree being felled or damaged then we are unlikely to serve a TPO. It would not be in the public interest to place additional burdens on an owner who is already positively managing their tree(s).

What happens if the Council makes a TPO?

If it is deemed appropriate, the Council will serve a TPO which lasts for six months. During this time, applications would need to be made to the Council to carry out any works to the tree(s). The Council will undertake a full assessment of the amenity value and any threat to the tree(s) in consultation with the owner and any other affected parties. If objections are received during the consultation, a report will then be taken to planning committee to decide whether to confirm the TPO so it becomes permanent. If no objections are received during the consultation, the TPO will automatically be confirmed by officers.

Can I carry out works to a TPO tree?

It is often possible to carry out works to ensure the good maintenance and preservation of the tree, however consent must be obtained from the Council prior to works commencing. In order to carry out works to a protected tree, you need to make a formal application to the Council. You can download the necessary forms and guidance from the Application Forms page of this website.

If a tree is dead or dangerous, you do not need to make a normal application, but you must give us at least five days notice of your proposed works to the tree.  This includes the removal of dead branches from living trees.  If there is an urgent risk to safety, notice should be given as soon as possible after the work is carried out to make it safe, however, we strongly recommend that you collect evidence to show that the tree was dangerous (for example photographs and/or a tree surgeon report) as we may require proof at a later date.

Can a TPO prevent land from being developed?

No, a TPO does not necessarily prevent planning permission from being granted. However, the Local Planning Authority will consider the risk to any protected tree(s) when determining planning applications. It is not uncommon for conditions to be placed on any consent to ensure the continued preservation of any protected trees during construction works. For more information how trees are dealt with during the planning process please see the Trees in Planning page of this website. 

How can I find out if a tree is protected?

The Council maintains a list of confirmed TPOs throughout the District, if you would like to find out if a tree is protected you can contact the Trees Team directly on 01353 616332 or you can contact them online (external link). Please give precise details of the location of the tree you are enquiring about.