Protected and privately owned trees

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)

A TPO is an order made by us to protect trees that make a significant contribution to the amenity of an area.

You can find out whether a tree is covered by a TPO by using our map to search for it or telephoning us on 01202 633321.

When you are buying a property the presence of a TPO should be revealed by the search of the local land charges register.

Please contact us if you wish to request a Tree Preservation Order be served on a specific tree.

The communities and Local Government Department have produced a guide to tree preservation procedures that may help further.

Trees in conservation areas: Section 211 Notices

Trees in conservation areas which are already protected by a TPO are subject to the normal TPO controls. But the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 also makes special provision for trees in conservation areas which are not the subject of a TPO.  

Under section 211 anyone proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a conservation area is required to give the LPA 6 weeks' prior notice (a 'section 211 notice').The purpose of this requirement is to give the LPA an opportunity to consider whether a TPO should be made in respect of the tree.

Ideally, a section 211 notice should be submitted using our applying to carry out tree works form. It must describe the work proposed and include sufficient particulars to identify the trees.

Applying to carry out tree works

If you wish to carry out work to a tree on private land that is covered by a Tree Preservation Order or lies within a conservation area, you will need to complete a treework request - private land application form.

Dead or dangerous trees

Where a tree presents an immediate risk of serious harm and work is urgently needed to remove that risk, tree owners or their agents must give us written notice as soon as practicable after that work becomes necessary. Work should only be carried out to the extent that it is necessary to remove the risk.

The danger must be immediate and the responsibility will be on you to prove this, if necessary. If the danger is not immediate the tree does not come within the meaning of the exception. Please report to us (with a photo) if you propose to carry out work on this basis at least 3 days in advance so we can agree with you which trees are dead or potentially dangerous. Removal of dead wood from an otherwise healthy tree is considered to be covered by this exemption.

You are required to plant a suitable replacement tree during the next available planting season and notify us that the work has been carried out. On notification, we will visit to confirm that the tree has been planted. The replacement tree will be covered by the existing Tree Preservation Order. If the danger is not immediate the tree does not come within the meaning of the exception.

Exception for work to prune back branches to prevent or reduce a nuisance

Our consent is not required to carry out the minimum of work on a tree protected by an order that is necessary to prevent or reduce a nuisance. Here ‘nuisance’ is used in its legal sense, not its general sense. The courts have held that this means the nuisance must be actionable in law – where it is causing, or there is an immediate risk of it causing, actual damage.

This means that pruning of minor branches of less than 30mm in diameter to provide a maximum of 2 metres separation between the profile of structures (for example dwellings and garages) and the nearest foliage of trees is allowed and does not require a formal application. This work must be restricted to pruning of tertiary and secondary branches. It should be noted that 2 metres separation is considered to be sufficient to prevent physical damage to structures.

All other types of work to prune back branches will need an application to carry out work.

Finding a tree surgeon

Whilst a lot of people advertise their services as tree surgeons, not all are qualified or experienced enough to carry out quality work. Visiting the Arboricultural Association website provides further information and a list of suitably qualified operatives.

Page last updated: 04 February 2019
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Privately owned tree works and preservation