Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as the local planning authority, we have a responsibility for the retention of trees in the County. Trees are an important natural asset and contribute much to the quality of our urban and rural environment. In addition to their visual amenity, trees act to filter noise, light and dust and play an essential role in the ecological system.
We protect trees by issuing Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). A TPO aims to protect trees that make a significant impact on their surroundings, for example, if they are a good example of their species or form an important feature within the local landscape.
A TPO can be made by the local planning authority in respect of a tree, group of trees or woodland including hedgerow trees but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. Members of the public may make a formal request for a TPO to be made. The effect of a TPO is to make it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without our consent.
Anyone can suggest to us that a TPO is put on a tree. We will then decide if it is of enough visual importance to the general public to make a TPO. You will be told in writing if we intend to make a tree on your land the subject of a TPO, and you have the right to object to the TPO being made.
Even once a TPO is in place, the owner is still responsible for the tree, rather than us. If anyone wants to prune any part of the tree or cut it down, however, they usually need to get our written permission first. The Courts can impose heavy fines or even imprisonment if work is done without permission on a tree covered by a TPO.
Trees in a conservation area
Trees within conservation areas are also protected and works to trees in these areas are subject to restrictions even if the trees are not the subjects of a TPO. Notice is required for works to trees that have a trunk diameter of more than 75mm when measured at 1.5m from ground level (or more than 100mm if reducing the number of trees to benefit the growth of other trees).
You have to give six weeks’ notice before carrying out work on trees which are located in a conservation area. This gives us an opportunity to consider whether an order should be made to protect the trees. In accordance with the legislation, it is an offence to cut down, prune, lop, top, uproot or wilfully damage or destroy a tree in a Conservation Area without giving us prior written notice. The penalties for failing to notify us are similar to an offence under TPO.
You can apply for consent to carry out works on trees under a TPO or in a conservation area online. There is no charge for the application.
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