Understanding Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) consent

If you are a tree owner, a keen gardener or landowner then chances are you already know the term tree preservation order.

This article will help you understand what a tree preservation order or TPO is.

It answers some common questions about the do’s and don’ts of tree preservation.

It’s important because TPOs are legal written documents that you can’t afford to ignore. If you’re going to be carrying out work then you don’t want to be charged with an offence. Note: Because a TPO is enforceable by law please take this as information only. For in depth understanding of your obligations or rights then a solicitor should help.

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 will professionally asses the condition of your tree and help you make the case with any paperwork and notifications.

You can contact Ashley Tree Services here

Enjoy your trees!