Protected trees

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About protected trees 

Trees are protected by conservation area, tree preservation order (TPO), ancient woodland designation or planning conditions attached to granted planning permissions (where a tree is identified for retention or new planting).

Check if a tree has a TPO 

To check if any trees on or around a property are protected by a conservation area or tree preservation order (TPO), please use our online search facility.  More information is available on how to use the search and TPO search terms and conditions.

Apply to work on a protected tree 

You will need to apply to the council, if trees are protected by conservation area or tree preservation order:

How to complete an application

For a tree work application to be registered and valid, it must have all the necessary and correct information. An invalid application or notification will not be processed until it is corrected. These guidance notes  will help you complete the form.  

A tree work application form must include the following:

  • Clear identification of the trees including a sketch or digital plan.
  • Accurate objective descriptions of the works requested, including measurements in metres. 
  • Reasons and justifications for the proposed works.
  • Supporting evidence where claims of possible subsidence are involved.
  • Supporting evidence in the form of written advice from an appropriate expert or diagnostic information if there are fears the tree is diseased or may break and fall.

Additional information:

  • We encourage you to supply good quality photographs of the trees referenced in applications. This can help officers make a decision and speed up the determination process. 
  • In certain circumstances, removing trees may also need a Felling Licence from the Forestry Commission

Help with tree work applications

We offer a pre-application service to help you with tree work application forms.

Report damage to a protected tree 

If you are concerned that damage is occurring or has occurred to a tree(s) protected by conservation area, tree preservation order or planning permission please report it to us.

Where it is in the public interest, we may pursue this matter through the courts and a successful prosecution can result in a criminal record and fines of up to and exceeding £20,000.

Request to protect a tree 

We can consider making a tree preservation order (TPO) if a tree or trees qualify under our evaluation criteria:

  1. The tree should be of public amenity and not only of private benefit. This normally means the tree can be viewed from a public place.
  2. The tree must not have been mutilated in the past in a way that has removed its arboricultural amenity value.
  3. The tree does not pose an unacceptable or un-manageable risk.
  4. The tree is capable of a reasonably long life.
  5. The tree is not located so close to a building that it would be unreasonable to refuse its removal if requested.
  6. The tree is under some form of threat, such as by proposed development, heavy pruning or removal.

To request the protection of a tree, please complete our contact us form and include the following information.

  • species eg chestnut, maple, cedar
  • location, marked on a map
  • the reason why the tree is under threat
  • photographs and images, if possible

Please note: TPOs are not tools for preventing development and planning permission can override TPO legislation.

Dangerous protected trees 

Where a protected tree presents an immediate risk of serious harm and work is urgently needed to remove that risk, tree owners or their agents must give written notice to the authority 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.

Dangerous trees will be considered an imminent danger (likely to cause harm in the near future) to people or property if the tree has no living parts or the tree and its parts are cracked/split or visibly shifting in the ground.

You do not need to make an application to make an imminently dangerous tree safe, but you are expected to give the council  5 days' notices if it is safe to do so. You can use our contact us form to submit a 5 day notice. 

Most knowledgeable tree surgery companies will be able to process the 5-day notification on your behalf. To help, we have a list of local tree surgery contractors. If you do not provide 5 days’ notice to the council and/or evidence of why the tree or part of tree was considered imminently dangerous, it is considered as unauthorised works.

Please note: there is an automatic duty on the landowner to replace any protected trees that are removed because they are dangerous. This duty transfers to any future landowners.

Unauthorised tree works 

If you do not get permission for works to a protected tree, the works would be unauthorised. Organising or undertaking unauthorised works to protected trees is an offence under the Town and Country Planning Act. The council may seek prosecution of those found guilty which, if convicted in court, can lead to fines of up to £20,000 and a criminal record.

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