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What is a Tree preservation order (TPO)

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

If you own a tree or are responsible for managing trees on a property, it's important to understand what a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is and how it affects you. A TPO is a legal document that is issued by a local planning authority in order to protect specific trees, groups of trees, or woodlands from being cut down, damaged, or destroyed.

If a tree or group of trees has a TPO, it means that you will need permission from the local planning authority before carrying out any work on them, including pruning, felling, or uprooting. Failure to obtain permission can result in hefty fines or even criminal prosecution.

Here are some common questions and answers about TPOs:

Q: How do I know if a tree has a TPO? A: You can check with your local planning authority to see if a tree or group of trees on your property has a TPO. You can also check the land registry records for your property.

Q: Can I do any work on a tree that has a TPO? A: Yes, but you will need to apply for permission from the local planning authority before carrying out any work. They will assess your application and determine whether or not the work is necessary and appropriate.

Q: How long does a TPO last? A: A TPO can be in place indefinitely, but it can also be amended or lifted if the local planning authority deems it appropriate.

Q: What happens if I carry out work on a tree that has a TPO without permission? A: You could face fines, legal action, or a criminal conviction. It's important to always obtain permission before carrying out any work on a tree that has a TPO.

Remember, a TPO is a legal document that should not be ignored. If you have any questions or concerns about TPOs, it's best to seek legal advice from a solicitor or your local tree surgeon bennetts tree care

What is a tree preservation order (TPO)?

It’s how the law protects and preserves trees for the enjoyment of the public and for aesthetic and environmental considerations. It can protect single trees and defined areas. Contrary to popular belief (and some neighbours) no trees are automatically covered by a TPO.

TPOs are ‘written’ by your local authority, borough council or national park authority.

If a tree is covered by a TPO then to do any of these is an offence:

  • Cut down

  • Top

  • Lop

  • Uproot

  • Wilfully damage

TPOs don’t cover:

  • Shrubs

  • Bushes

  • Hedges.

How do I find out if a tree is protected?

Your local planning authority will have details of trees covered by TPOs. You will be able to inspect the records. It’s also likely that land searches made before you bought the property include information about protected trees.

Who is responsible for a tree with a TPO?

The local planning authority do not own a tree covered by a TPO if it’s on your land. You remain responsible for the condition of the tree (and also for any damage it might cause). Although they don’t own a TPO covered tree on your land you usually need written consent from the local authority before carrying out work. There are appeal procedures to follow if they refuse.

When and how should I notify the local authority or check for consent if I want to carry out work on a tree?

There is standard documentation that a qualified tree surgeon will be familiar with. Your local authority will tell you how to get the form. On the form you need to be clear about what work you want done and make the case for why it should be done. Making the case is where a professional tree surgeon can help with an assessment of the health of the tree and its near environment.

Different rules apply if the tree is:

  • an urgent health and safety risk

  • dead

  • interfering with approved planning

You’ll need to check with your local planning authority in these situations

The notifications period varies and you’ll need to check, but if you think in terms of 8 weeks you are going in the right direction.

Get professional help

Tree Preservation Orders are a complicated subject but generally they are issued with the best intentions – to preserve our enjoyment of nature.

In a nutshell, as the owner of a tree covered by a TPO:

  • you have the responsibility for it’s upkeep and health

  • you are required to notify the local planning authority if you intend to carry out work on the tree

A qualified tree surgeon such as Bennetts Tree Care can provide a professional assessment of the condition of a tree, along with a detailed report or quotation to help you make your case for obtaining permission from the local planning authority (LPA) for any necessary work. They can also assist you with the required paperwork and notifications to the LPA to ensure that the work is carried out legally and with the proper permissions. For expert tree care services, you can contact Bennetts Tree Care at 01189070454.

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