Protected trees

What is a Tree Preservation Order?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a special form of control that applies to certain trees. TPOs are used to protect trees that are particularly attractive and contribute to the appearance of an area. It is illegal to cut down, prune, or otherwise damage a tree protected by a TPO without the Council's consent. Any unauthorised lopping or felling of a tree covered by a TPO is a serious criminal offence and can result in an unlimited fine.

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Area TPOs

An Area (or 'blanket') Tree Preservation Order protects the trees located within an area defined on a map. An Area TPO applies to all the trees that were in existence at the time the TPO was made, so it is often necessary to establish the age of a tree to know whether or not it is protected by an Area TPO. Please contact our Tree Officers for more information.

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Trees within a Conservation Area

A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve. Trees often make an important contribution to the appearance of Conservation Areas, and so are given special protection. Permission is required for the pruning or felling of any tree within a Conservation Area with a stem diameter of equal to or greater than 7.5cm (as measured at 1.5m above ground level). The penalties for unauthorized felling or lopping of trees in Conservation Areas is a fine up to 20,000.

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Trees protected by Planning Condition

The Council, when granting planning permission for development, may require existing trees to be retained as a condition of the planning permission, even if they are not protected by a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation Area. If a tree is located in the grounds of a property that was built or extended within the last five years, it may be protected by planning condition. Please refer to our website if you are unsure whether a planning condition applies to the trees in your garden.

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How do I find out which trees are protected by a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation Area?

Find out if the trees at a property are protected by Conservation Area or TPO by contacting our Tree Officers

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You will need to fill in an application form. However, if you wish to undertake felling or crown reduction it may be advisable to discuss your proposals with us prior to submitting the application. We may be able to advise you on alternative works that will solve the problem, but that will not conflict with our policies on tree protection. It usually takes six weeks from the receipt of your application until a decision is made.

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Can I appeal against the Council's decision if my application to carry out work is refused?

Appeals are dealt independently by The Planning Inspectorate.

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Is there a charge for making an application?

There is no charge for making a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation Area application.

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Will the Council pay for my protected tree to be pruned?

The Council will not pay for works to protected trees. All landowners are responsible for ensuring their trees are safe and any pruning work required will be at the landowner's expense.

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Are fruit trees protected?

Fruit trees may be included in TPOs, and protected through Conservation Area legislation. A fruit tree is defined as a tree cultivated for the production of fruit, such as apples, pears, plums and cherries. Whilst a number of trees produce 'fruit' that may be eaten (such as walnuts, sweet chestnuts and mulberries), they are rarely cultivated specifically for the production of fruit and therefore not classed under the term fruit tree. Ornamental crab apple trees, cherry and pear trees are also included.

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I think my tree is dead. Can I remove it?

Any protected tree that is dead can be removed without the need to submit an application. However, the onus of proof rests with you. If you plan to remove such a tree you must provide us with at least five days written notice. We will then make a site visit to check that the tree is dead and if this is the case, it can be removed. There is a legal duty to plant a replacement tree under these circumstances.

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I think my tree is dangerous.

Where works are urgently necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm, this may be done without prior notification to the Council. However, you must notify the Council in writing as soon as is practicable after the works become necessary. You must also provide evidence (e.g. photographs) that the tree was an immediate risk of causing serious harm.