Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and Works to Trees in a Conservation Area

The Council has powers to protect trees by making TPOs and will send copies of these orders to the landowner concerned and explain the reason for making them. The landowner will have a chance to comment on any order. In most cases the Council must agree before you or anyone else can carry out any work to a protected tree. If the Council refuses your application, you can appeal to the Secretary of State within 28 days.

Applications to work on protected trees are dealt with under different regulations to Planning Permission, the principal difference being that there is no charge for these applications. You will still need to fill in the requisite forms, and indicate by plan or diagram the positions of the trees you wish to work on. The Council will advertise your application, but there is no legal requirement for them to formally notify neighbours, and therefore this is done on a case by case basis. The Arboricultural Officer determining your application may well need to visit the site. Most applications will be decided within the 8 week target.

To carry out works to protected trees, you need to make an application to the Council.

If you are intending removing a protected tree, you are advised to seek advice from a qualified arboriculturist as you will need a report from them to support your application.


It is an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without the Council’s permission. There are exceptions to this as follows:

  • cutting down a dead tree
  • cutting down a tree when the whole tree presents an urgent and serious safety risk (i.e. an ‘immediate risk of serious harm’)
  • pruning part of a tree that presents an urgent and serious safety risk (i.e. an ‘immediate risk of serious harm’)
  • removing dead branches from a living tree
  • to prevent or control a legal nuisance (you may need to take legal advice on this)
  • by or at the request of a certain organisations listed in the regulations
  • where the work is urgently necessary in the interests of national security
  • in a commercial orchard, or pruning fruit trees in accordance with good horticultural practice
  • cutting down trees in accordance with one of the Forestry Commission’s grant schemes, or where the Commission has granted a felling license
  • work directly in the way of development that is about to start for which detailed planning permission has been granted (this does not apply to permitted development)
  • In like with an obligation under an Act of Parliament

Changes were made to the legislation in April 2012 and the felling of dying trees is no longer an exception, unless it is considered to be an urgent or serious safety risk.

Trees in a Conservation Area that are not subject to a TPO are still protected and you will need to notify the local planning authority if you intend to carry out certain works. You are advised to contact your Local Planning Authority before undertaking any works to a tree in a Conservation Area to establish whether or not the works are exempt.

The work may go ahead before the end of the six week period from the date of your notification if the local planning authority gives consent. This notice period gives the authority an opportunity to consider whether make a TPO.