A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a local planning authority (District or Borough Council) prohibiting the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or wilful destruction of a tree either registered under a TPO or of a tree that is within a Conservation Area. The powers and responsibilities of the Local Authority are set out in the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 as amended by further Acts.
If a Local Authority wishes to impose a Tree Preservation Order they must go through a process including visiting the site for survey and then make public their desire to protect the tree under this legislation. If, after public consultation, the TPO is made then a copy of the order and a ‘Regulation 5 Notice’ must be served on any interested person including the owner and occupiers of the land. There is then a period of time, usually 28 days, for any objections to be made.
In addition to trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order, If you wish to work on or remove a tree that is within a Conservation Area then you must first serve what is known as a S 211 Notice to the Local Authority. They have six weeks to respond either granting permission or refusing permission. It is likely that, if you do not hear anything within the six week period then you will have permission to continue, but we always suggest that parties take specific advice from a professional planning consultant before continuing.
If you breach a Tree Preservation Order or do not comply with the regulations relating to trees in a Conservation Area then beware! It is a criminal offence to do the work or to allow the work to be done, punishable by a fine of up to £20,000 in Magistrates Court and an unlimited fine at Crown Court.