Tree Protection Orders, Conservation Areas and Council Applications
Tree Protection Orders, conservation areas and council applications can be daunting and time-consuming to navigate. Our experienced tree surgeons will take care of the council applications on your behalf, free of charge, before undertaking any work. In this guide we’ll tell you all you need to know about protected trees and how to deal with them.
There are two ways in which a tree might be protected: Tree Protection Orders, which protect a specific tree or group of trees, and conservation areas, which protect trees in a certain area.
Tree Protection Orders
A Tree Protection Order (TPO) is made by a Local Planning Authority (LPA) to protect trees for public enjoyment or environmental reasons. If you have a protected tree on your property, you will likely have to request permission before conducting any work on it. Failing to get this permission can lead to an unlimited fine – so if you’re in any doubt it’s well worth speaking to a qualified arborist first.
What should I do if my tree is protected by a TPO?
You can find out from your LPA if a tree on your land is protected by a TPO. If it is, you will need to get permission from them around eight weeks in advance of any work you want to undertake. This applies to almost all work, including crown reductions and thinning, and especially if you are considering removing the tree.
Making a compelling application to the LPA can be challenging. Our experienced arborists would be happy to make these applications on your behalf, free of charge, before we start any work. Councils are often reassured if they know that a request is coming from a qualified tree surgeon. If you are planning to conduct work on a protected tree, get in touch and we can talk you through the process.
Exceptions to this process
If a tree poses a serious health and safety risk, you can notify the LPA of your plans to have work undertaken to make the tree safe, rather than having to ask permission. You should submit this notification as soon as you know that this work is required, and the work carried out should only be enough to make the tree safe.
There are also exceptions for removing dead trees and branches. If a whole tree is dead, you should provide the LPA with five days’ notice before having the tree removed, but again permission is not required. However, you will have a duty to plant a replacement tree. Removing dead branches requires no LPA approval or notice.
Conservation areas protect areas of historic or architectural interest rather than specific trees. There are around 10,000 conservation areas in the UK. Many people don’t realise that trees in these areas are also protected. Undertaking work on a tree in a conservation area without permission could lead to an unlimited fine, so it’s best to seek expert advice if you’re considering any work.
What should I do if I live in a conservation area?
You must notify your LPA of any work you plan to undertake on trees in a conservation area that are wider than 75mm in diameter. This notice will have to be supplied six weeks in advance of any work, but unlike for TPOs you do not need explicit permission from the LPA. Once the six weeks have expired, unless the council have objected, you are free to undertake the work. If the council do object they will normally take out a TPO to protect the tree.
Exceptions to this process
The same exceptions apply as do for TPOs: undertaking works on dead or dangerous trees requires only five days’ notice, or less if you can prove the work is urgent. You’ll need to show that you plan to only undertake works that are needed to make the tree safe, and the Government recommend having a professional tree surgeon on hand to provide this advice.
Undertaking unauthorised works on any protected trees can lead to significant fines. It’s important to get proper advice before taking action. We’d be happy to work with you through this process – get in touch to find out how we can help.