Apply to carry out works to protected trees

Anyone can apply for consent to carry out works to a protected tree, even if they don’t own it. This situation will arise when a landowner wants to obtain permission to cut the branches of a neighbouring tree, which overhangs their property.

An application for consent to carry out works to a TPO protected tree must:

  1. be made to the Authority on the standard application form;
  2. include information required by the form;
  3. be accompanied by a plan which clearly identifies the tree or trees;
  4. be accompanied by such information as is necessary to clearly specify the work for which consent is sought;
  5. state the reasons for making the application;
  6. be accompanied by appropriate evidence describing any structural damage to property or in relation to tree health or safety.

The Planning Portal has a TPO Tree Work Application Form and the Help File - Form 031 available to download.  

In dealing with the application we may;

  1. Refuse consent
  2. Grant consent unconditionally
  3. Grant consent subject to conditions.

Exceptions

There are a number of exemptions from the normal requirement to obtain consent for cutting down or carrying out works to protected trees;

  1. The cutting down or carrying out work on a tree that is dead, or dangerous. Anyone proposing to use this exemption is advised to give the Authority 5 days’ notice before carrying out the work. If work is carried out under this exemption the onus is on the owner to prove the tree was dead, dying or dangerous;
  2. The cutting down or carrying out work to prevent or abate a nuisance. Nuisance is used in a legal sense and would have to be ‘actionable’, which means the tree is causing physical damage. Leaf litter would not be included in this exemption;
  3. For carrying out works in line with a plan of operations agreed by the Forestry Commission under one of its grant schemes or Felling Licences;
  4. To carry out or implement a full planning permission;
  5. Work carried out by a Statutory Undertaker.

The onus is on the landowner to provide proof the tree was dead or dangerous should the Authority question the reason for removal. Officers of the Authority are happy to meet landowners on site to discuss problem trees.

Penalties

Anyone, in contravention of a TPO cuts down, uproots or wilfully destroys a tree, or lops, tops or wilfully damages a tree is a way likely to destroy it is guilty of an offence. Anyone found guilty of that offence is liable to a fine of up to £20,000, if convicted in Magistrates Court and in a serious case a person may be committed for trial in the Crown Court and if convicted they are liable to an unlimited fine. If a person has carried out works without consent, but has not destroyed the tree, on conviction, they may be fined up to £2,500.

Ownership

Trees protected by a TPO are not owned by the Authority, nor is the Authority responsible for their safety or cost of maintenance.

Further Information

The Department of Communities and Local Government has information relating to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order on its web site.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tree-preservation-orders-and-trees-in-conservation-areas