Where trees are statutorily protected with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), it is important to contact the Local Planning Authority and follow appropriate procedures before undertaking any work that might affect the protected trees. AA Tree Surgeons Ltd are experienced and knowledgeable to make applications giving advice in order to keep the process as simple as possible with a satisfactory outcome.
This brief guidance which has been sourced from The Arboricultural Association is intended to provide general guidance and should not be taken as a definitive interpretation of the law as it affects trees.
Tree Protection Brief Guidance
Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Areas, Planning Conditions, Felling Licences or Restrictive Covenants legally protects many trees in the UK. Anyone wishing to undertake work to a tree should make suitable enquiries as to the legal status of the tree and any protection afforded to it before undertaking any work, this will protect themselves and others from possible prosecutions and/or enforcement action.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
TPOs are administered by Local Planning Authorities (LPA) (e.g. a borough, district or unitary council or a national park authority) and are made to protect trees that bring significant amenity benefit to the local area. This protection is particularly important where trees are under threat. All types of tree, but not hedges, bushes or shrubs can be protected, and a TPO can protect anything from a single tree to all trees within a defined area or woodland. Any species can be protected, but no species is automatically protected by a tree preservation order. A TPO is a written order, which in general, makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by that order, or to cause or permit such actions, without the authority’s permission. Anyone found guilty of such an offence is liable. In serious circumstances the case may be dealt with in the Crown Court where an unlimited fine can be imposed.
If a tree in a conservation area is not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, you have to give notice to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) of any proposed work, describing what you would like to do. This is called a ‘section 211 notice’ and it gives the LPA an opportunity to consider protecting the tree with a TPO. You do not need to give notice of work on a tree in a conservation area less than 7.5 centimetres in diameter, measured 1.5 metres above the ground (or 10 centimetres if thinning to help the growth of other trees).
Felling Licences are administered by the Forestry Commission. You may need to apply to the Forestry Commission for a felling licence, whether or not they are covered by a Tree Preservation Order.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
SSSIs (ASSIs in Northern Ireland) are designated by the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO) for each country of the United Kingdom. They include some of our most spectacular and beautiful habitats – large wetlands teeming with waders and waterfowl, winding chalk rivers, gorse and heather-clad heathlands, flower rich meadows, windswept shingle beaches and remote uplands moorland and peat bog. Each SSSI will have a management plan and a list of operations requiring the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCOs) consent prior to carrying out works. Any activity that recklessly or intentionally harms the SSSI (ASSIs in Northern Ireland) or its flora or fauna will be an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20,000 or on conviction on indictment to an unlimited fine.
A restrictive covenant is a promise by one person to another, (such as a buyer of land and a seller) not to do certain things with the land or property. It binds the land and not an individual owner, it “runs with the land”. This means that the restrictive covenant continues over the land or property even when the current owner(s) sell it to another person. Restrictive covenants continue to have effect even though they may have been made many years ago and appear to be obsolete. Covenants or other restrictions in the title of a property or conditions in a lease may require the consent of a third party prior to carrying out some sorts of tree work, including removing trees and hedges. This may be the case even if Tree Preservation Order, Conservation Area and Felling Licence Regulations do not apply.