Whenever works are proposed in respect of a tree, it is essential to consider whether the tree is subject to any protection prior to any works commencing. A tree may be protected by way of the existence of a Tree Preservation Order and/or by being located within a Conservation Area.
What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a special form of control applying to certain trees. It is used to protect trees that positively contribute to the appearance or character of an area. A TPO can be served on an individual tree, a group of trees or a woodland, or any combination of these. A TPO relating to an area of land is known as a ‘blanket’ order. These only protect trees that were there when the order was made. Anything that has grown since will not be protected.
What is a Conservation Area?
The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 also makes special provision for trees in conservation areas which are not the subject of a TPO. Every conservation area has blanket order covering all trees with a central stem diameter of 7.5cm at 1.5meters from ground level. This does not generally apply to shrubs and hedges.
How do I find out if my tree is protected by way of a TPO or Conservation Area?
It is simple to obtain confirmation of the status of your trees by contacting the relevant Local Planning Authority. Some Councils have an interactive map on their website which enables you to find the information yourself and others will require a phone call or email to the Council’s Planning/Tree Team to enquire.
At Groundlord we are more than happy to undertake these searches on your behalf as part of the service we provide.
For tree work in Basingstoke and Deane, you can visit: https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/protectedtrees
For tree work in Test Valley, you can visit https://www.testvalley.gov.uk/planning-and-building/treesandlandscape/trees
For tree work in Winchester, you can visit: https://www.winchester.gov.uk/planning/trees
For tree work in Wiltshire, you can visit: https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planning-trees-hedges
What action do I need to take in order to carry out work on my tree if it is protected?
Anyone proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a Conservation Area or subject to a Tree Preservation Order is required to make an application to the relevant Local Planning Authority.
In respect of a Conservation Area, you are required to provide six weeks’ prior notice (a ‘section 211 notice’). The purpose of the prior notice requirement is to give the Local Planning Authority an opportunity to consider whether a TPO should be made in respect of the tree. Conservation areas are areas of special architectural or historical interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. They are designated by Local Planning Authorities and are often, though not always, centred around listed buildings. Other buildings and landscape features, including trees, may also contribute to the special character of a conservation area.
In respect of a Tree Preservation Order, you are required to obtain the Local Planning Authority’s consent to the works (applications are usually determined within 8 weeks). You will be required to provide reasons as to why the works are required and supporting evidence. Trees that are dead, dying, diseased or dangerous and fruit trees grown for the commercial production of fruit are exempt from TPOs. However, a 5-day notice may still be required to be submitted to the Council so it is essential that you seek the correct advice before carrying out your proposed works.
How do I make an application to carry out works to protected trees?
At Groundlord we are highly experienced in preparing and submitting the necessary applications for works to protected trees and have great relationships with surrounding Councils.
The relevant forms if you wish to make the application yourself can be found at: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk.
What is the penalty for not obtaining the Council’s consent for works to a protected tree?
It is a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage, or destroy a protected tree. The maximum fine in a Magistrate’s Court is £20,000 for each offence and in a Crown Court the fine is unlimited.
NB. A tree may also be protected by way of planning/development restrictions which limits the works that can be carried out, but such is not covered in this blog post.