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What is a Tree Preservation Order?

The council as a Local Planning Authority (LPA) may make a TPO if it decides that the tree(s) offers amenity value to the surrounding area, and that its loss or disfigurement would have a significant negative impact.

The tree(s) are usually visible from a public place and make a positive contribution to the landscape. The LPA has to justify the placement of a TPO and the tree owner can object to the placement of such an order. The order makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, damage or destroy the tree or trees in question. A TPO can apply to a single tree, a group of trees or woodland. Any size, species or age of tree can be protected by a TPO.

A tree protected by a TPO is still the responsibility of the landowner, the council are not responsible for the tree and will not contribute to the cost of its maintenance.

Protected Trees – general information Welsh GovernmentOpens new window

The removal of trees from within woodlands, forests and the wider countryside may also require a felling licence obtained from Natural Resources WalesOpens new window

Carrying out work to a TPO protected tree

A TPO is made to prevent anyone from felling or pruning the tree without the consent of the LPA. This does not necessarily mean that work cannot be carried out; it means that permission must be obtained first. This allows important trees within the town and landscape to be retained and worked on to a good standard: Application for tree works: Works to trees subject to a TPOOpens new window

There are exemptions in the Act, which allows a tree owner to carry out some works without consent. This applies to the removal of dead, dying or dangerous trees or parts of a tree. A common example would be the removal of dead wood (dead branches).

A tree owner is advised to request an inspection by the council's tree officer prior to carrying out any works to a protected tree that they think is dead, dying or dangerous giving at least 5 days' notice so that he/she can confirm the health of the tree.

In an emergency or at a weekend a telephone call or email to the council is advised as well as collecting and keeping evidence of the problem (photographs/faulted part of tree, etc). It is the tree owners' responsibility to provide proof if requested that the tree was indeed dead, dying or dangerous to the council's tree officer to prevent court action being taken.

Other exemptions include works by utility companies, trees on airports, defence installations or where work is required to carry out a full (not outline) planning consent.

Penalties

The courts have powers to fine anyone damaging a protected tree. The maximum fines in a Magistrates Court are £20,000 (unlimited in Crown Court) for destroying a tree and up to £2,500 for unauthorised pruning. It is not acceptable for a defendant to plead that they were unaware that a tree was protected unless the council were the cause of such ignorance.

Making a tree works application

There is no fee for submitting a tree works application. However, if an agent completes the form for you they may charge a small fee for their time.

A tree works application may be made by the tree owner, agent or neighbour. If an application made by a neighbour is successful then they would still require permission from the tree owner to cut any part that does not overhang their property.

If you are considering submitting an application please take time to read, understand and follow the guidance notes: Planning Portal - TPO Guidance NotesOpens new window. Applications can be delayed if all the correct information is not supplied.

A tree works application can be made online via The Planning PortalOpens new window. Registration is easy and you can complete your application form and upload supporting documents online.

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