Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999. Local authorities create TPO’s to safeguard trees with a sufficiently high amenity value. Hedges can not be protected with a TPO. TPO’s are often made when there is a perceived threat to a tree or group of trees and generally come into effect immediately. It is possible for TPOs to be created within a day in urgent cases although a six month period follows before they can be confirmed and made permanent. Anyone who may be affected by the TPO will be notified and invited to comment within 28 days of the date of the order.

A TPO prevents the felling, lopping, topping, uprooting or otherwise willful damage of trees without the permission of the local planning authority. This includes any form of tree surgery or pruning and also damage to the root systems of protected trees. Occasionally consent will be given to remove protected trees but there will usually be a requirement to replant. The LPA is able to enforce replanting if necessary. Local authorities can and do prosecute where unauthorized works are carried out to protected trees. Substantial fines can be imposed.

Some works are exempt from the TPO legislation although it is still advisable to give 5 days notice before undertaking any exempt works. Work that is exempt includes :

  • – Works approved by the Forestry Commission under a Felling License
  • – Felling or other work on dead, dying or dangerous trees. This includes the removal of dead wood from a tree.(Be aware that you will need to be able to prove the condition of any trees you decide come within this category)
  • – Where there is an obligation under an Act of Parliament.
  • – Works at the request of certain agencies or organisations which are specified in the Order.
  • – Works where there is a need to work on a tree to allow development to commence for which full planning permission has been given.
  • – Works to fruit trees cultivated for commercial fruit part of a business.
  • – Works to prevent or control a legal nuisance. N.B. Be sure you understand the legal definition of nuisance.

There are four types of TPO as follows:

  • 1) Individual: can be applied to an individual tree of sufficient merit.
  • 2) Group: can be applied to a group of trees which collectively provide sufficient amenity value but as individuals may not.
  • 3) Area: these TPOs are not normally made now but are still commonly found. It includes all trees within a defined area at the time when an order was made.
  • 4) Woodland: covers all trees within a woodland area regardless of how old they are and whether or not they were present when the order was made.

A Tree Preservation Order is a public document and will be available for inspection at your local planning authority office. The document will include a schedule that details the type of TPO and usually the species of trees included. The document will also include a map showing tree locations or the geographical area of a TPO. A copy of the document can usually be purchased.