Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) – FAQs

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Frequently asked questions about trees, tree preservation orders, conservation areas and other related questions.

 

A TPO is a legal protection given to trees, primarily those that are considered to be important because they significantly contribute to their local surroundings and by doing so provide a benefit to the public.

In general, it is an offence to cut down, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy a protected tree without the planning authority's permission.

A Conservation Area is defined as "an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance". Planning legislation allows local authorities to give special attention to these areas and their enhancement; accordingly, this extends to trees in Conservation Areas and requires that written notification must be given six weeks in advance of proposed tree works.

You can use the council's TPO online maps to search for a particular address to see if there is a TPO or find out if the tree is in a Conservation Area. Unfortunately, we are unable to confirm in writing whether a tree has a TPO or is in a Conservation Area.

The landowner has a responsibility to do all that is reasonable to ensure that their trees are healthy and safe. This is a "Duty of Care" under Common Law.

If you need some advice about your trees and whether any work is required, you should seek the advice of reputable arboricultural professional, such as an Arborist (Tree Surgeon) or Arboricultural Consultant, to see if they can be of service or guidance.

A useful source of information regarding Arborists and tree work is available on the Arboricultural Association website.

If you have concerns about your neighbour's trees you should bring this to their attention in a polite way by clearly explaining the nature of your concerns.

The Council's Tree Officer cannot inspect privately owned trees. Applications to work on protected trees (TPO or Conservation Area) are assessed by the Tree Officer through the planning process.

You can make enquiries about Council owned trees on our report a tree problem page.  

For trees on privately owned land where the landowner is not known after extensive enquiries have been made you may be able to find out who is the registered owner of the land by contacting HM Land Registry.

In the first instance, you should discuss the tree issues with your neighbour as they may not be aware that their tree is a cause of concern.

Under Common Law it is a land owner's responsibility (Duty of Care) to do all that is reasonable to maintain their tree(s) in a healthy and safe condition. This is best demonstrated by having the trees inspected regularly by a suitably qualified person and by following the recommendations of that professional, if remedial works are identified as being necessary; it would be prudent to keep a record of these inspections and of any works carried out.

You may also like to consider seeking the advice of an arboricultural professional to inspect the trees in question, for example - to ascertain if there are any serious defects that require remedial work to prevent a foreseeable incident (damage or harm).

If you are concerned that your neighbour's tree is affecting the structure of your property you may also need to contact your house insurer to establish a course of action or investigation.

If the tree is protected, then please note that anyone can apply to work on a protected tree. However if you are not the tree owner, then it is usually necessary to ask permission from the owner first.

If you would like the Council to consider the suitability of a Tree, Trees (group or area) or Woodland for protection by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) please visit our Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) page for more details. To assess your request we will need to know:

  • The exact location of the tree(s) - postal address (if known) with a sketch map or a plan with OS co-ordinates would help).
  • The species and number of trees (if known)  - photos can sometimes be useful but are not essential and can use very large amounts of disk space, memory e.g. in electronic mail.
  • The reasons why you consider them to be important or significant enough to be worthy of TPO or why they may be under threat.
  • The assessment of a tree(s) suitability for a TPO is made by the council's Tree Officer using criteria including:- visual amenity, form, health, structure, longevity, impact on the local and wider landscape, rarity of species and suitability for its location.
  • TPO's are made on a priority basis and can include those under imminent threat through to those that contribute significant amenity but are not considered to be at risk in the short term.

There are no grants available from the Council for works to privately owned trees.