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What is a Tree Preservation Order?

12/09/2017

We often get asked to give advice on trees covered by a Tree Preservation Orders (TPO), and usually the first question we're asked is "What is a Tree Preservation Order?".

Tree Preservation Orders give special protection to trees that are deemed to provide a significant contribution to an area. This can be because of their amenity value as an individual tree, or as a group of trees or it can also apply to whole areas of woodland. If it applies to individual trees, the written TPO will state why the trees have been protected, the primary reason will be the amenity value of the trees. If a group or site has an area designation, the TPO will cover all trees present on the site at the time the order was made. The planning authority will have a public record of the order.

Conservation Areas
It's worth noting that all trees in Conservation Areas with a girth of >150mm are covered by a TPO. Any work to trees within a Conservation Area requires written permission from the planning authority. Due to the blanket nature of coverage, TPO's in Conservation Areas will cover trees that may have value than mature specimen broadleaved trees however their contribution to the character of the Conservation Area will be their primary focus.

Level of protection
A TPO is an important designation and prohibits work being carried out without approval from the planning authority with the exception of emergency works, for example, if a tree is dead or in a dangerous state. Carrying out work without permission can carry a fine of up to £20,000, so it's worth making sure you keep on the right side of the law!

How do you know if your trees are covered by a TPO?
The local authority keep the TPO record. Many local authorities have this is available via a range of methods from interactive mapping systems, to downloadable PDF information though you may have to contact the local authority directly and request the relevant information. If doing the latter, it is worthwhile speaking directly to the Tree Officer in the first instance.

TPO's and Construction Works
If your property has trees covered by a TPO, you will need to be proactive in dealing with them responsible during construction. The British Standard BS 5837 covers a range of methods that should be adhered to during the design and construction process, an arboricultural method statement may also be required.

I want to do work on trees covered by a TPO
If you want to work on trees, you must make an Application for Tree Works to the local authority.

Corsican pine at Dollar Academy

Mature oak trees; post-construction work