Trees can be protected by either tree preservation orders or by being located within a conservation area.
A tree preservation order (TPO) generally makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without the planning authority's permission. We have over 350 TPOs in force across the district. Some orders cover just one tree and others include hundreds of trees over large areas or whole woodlands.
There are over 20 conservation areas, in which all trees over 75mm diameter measured at 1.5m above ground level are protected.
Can I apply to work on a protected tree?
Anyone can apply to carry out work on a protected tree. You can also apply for consent for trees that are not on your land, for example to prune an overhanging branch from a neighbour's tree. Please ensure you do not begin work on the tree until we have granted permission.
Use a tree surgeon
We would also recommend consulting a tree surgeon to clarify what you need to do. They can also help you to fill in the paperwork. Find out more about tree surgeons.
To apply for consent to work on or fell a protected tree, you must submit a tree preservation order consent form specifying the tree, what you want to do and why. More information can be found in the application guidance notes and the frequently asked questions leaflet.
There is no charge for making an application or submitting a notice.
Guidance for developers
We have produced a supplementary planning document called trees landscaping and development which provides helpful guidance to developers, applicants and other parties involved in the development process.
Trees in conservation areas
If you wish to work on trees not protected by a TPO, but in a conservation area, you must tell us, giving six weeks notice. You must not carry out any work within those six weeks or until we have confirmed that we have no objections to the works being carried out.
You do not have use our application form, as long as your notification is given in writing and clearly indicates which trees are included, the works required and the reasons why the work is proposed. However many people find it useful to use our application form.
More information can be found in the application guidance notes and the frequently asked questions leaflet.
There is no charge for making an application or submitting a notice.
The application/consent process
Once your application or notice is received one of our arboricultural officers will assess it. You will receive an acknowledgement letter to let you know that we have received your application or notice. A site visit may be made to assess the work but in many cases, where the work is simple in nature, no site visit is necessary. After the proposed work has been inspected, we will consult the local ward councillors for their comments on your application. This normally takes two weeks and councillors have the ability to 'call in' an application to be determined by the Planning Committee. If this is the case then we will contact you to let you know what happens next.
If the work you propose is acceptable a decision notice will be sent to you. Once you have the decision notice stating that the work is acceptable you may carry out the work.
My application was refused, what happens next?
If your application is fully or partially refused we will write to you with the council's decision. You can appeal against this decision. A leaflet is available giving information on the appeal process.
More information can also be found in the frequently asked questions leaflet.
I have another question which isn't listed here
Download the copy of our Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and trees in Conservation Areas leaflet or call 01543 308000 to have a copy sent to you. The leaflet includes information about why TPOs are made, what work is restricted on TPO trees and trees in Conservation Areas, how to apply for consent for work or give notice of proposed work and what happens if a TPO is made on your tree.
How can I find out if a tree is protected?
Our interactive mapping layer for protected trees allows you to find trees which are protected by tree preservation orders (TPOs), and trees within conservation areas.
- Individual trees protected by a preservation order are shown using a green dot.
- Other tree preservation order designations (areas, groups or woodlands) are shown as green polygons.
- Conservation areas are shown as pink polygons.
For each of the tree preservation order designations shown as polygons, it is essential to view the TPO schedule, as the number and species of trees protected within the polygon will differ.
Within the boundary of a conservation area, all trees of 75mm diameter (measured at 1.5m above ground level) of all species are protected.
Please note: Many of our tree preservation orders date from the 1950s through to the 1990s. Transferring data to interactive mapping from maps made in this period can result in trees and polygons being misplotted. Therefore, the interactive mapping layer should not be viewed as definitive proof of the presence or absence of a protected tree. We are working hard towards updating these TPOs and the mapping layers. However, in the meantime it is essential that contact our arboricultural team to check for the presence or absence of TPOs.
Land searches (searches undertaken by a solicitor or search company when purchasing a property) may also reveal the presence of protected trees whether these are protected by a tree preservation order or conservation area. Your solicitor should be able to advise you if trees on the property you intend to purchase are protected and what this may mean for you as owners.
What if I carry out work on a protected tree without consent?
If work is carried out on a protected tree/tree in conservation area, without consent, which damages or destroys the tree(s), you could face an unlimited fine if convicted in the magistrates court.
In determining the amount of the fine, the court will take into account any financial benefit arising from the offence. For lesser offences that are unlikely to destroy a tree, you could be fined up to £2,500.
You will normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.
How can I tell if someone has permission to work on a tree?
Contact our arboricultural team on 01543 308207/308185 who will check records to see if the tree in question has a protection order on it.
If the tree concerned is protected we will investigate and take the necessary steps to stop work being carried out until permission has been granted.
Can I ask for a tree to be protected?
Contact our arboricultural team on 01543 308207/308185 giving details of the trees and the reasons why you think they should be protected.
The team will make an assessment and decide whether the trees are suitable for inclusion in a tree preservation order.
Do you offer compensation?
Compensation may be payable if loss or damage occurs within 12 months of our decision to refuse consent or grant consent with conditions. However, the circumstances are limited. Find out more.
How are new TPOs established?
When we make an order, the owner of the tree and other interested parties will be written to enclosing a copy of the order. If anyone wishes to object or support the order a letter must be forwarded to us within the time period which will be stated on the letter. We will take any comments into account when deciding whether or not to confirm the order.
Once the order is confirmed, details will be sent out to interested parties.
Once the order is made the owner of the tree remains responsible for the condition and any damage that is caused and permission to work on any preserved tree must be applied for.