Apply for consent to carry out works to protected trees

Apply for consent to carry out works to protected trees

Apply for consent to carry out works to protected trees

Anyone can apply for consent to carry out works to a protected tree and they do not have to have a legal interest in the land. 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 in writing to the Authority
  2. state the reasons for making the application
  3. identify the trees to which the application relates, by reference to a plan if necessary
  4. specify the operations for which consent is sought.

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

On receipt of an application the Authority has 8 weeks to make a decision. In dealing with the application the Authority may;

  1. refuse consent
  2. grant consent unconditionally
  3. grant consent subject to conditions.

If the Authority refuses consent, grants consent subject to conditions or fails to determine the application within the 8 week time frame the applicant can appeal to the Secretary of State.


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, dying or dangerous. Anyone proposing to use this exemption is advised to give the Authority 5 days 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.

It is advisable to give the Authority 5 days notice before cutting down a tree which is dead, dying or dangerous. The onus is on the landowner to provide proof the tree was dead, dying 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.


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.


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

Further Information

The Department of Communities and Local Government website has a number of publications relating to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order.