Local planning authorities (LPAs) are responsible for issuing tree preservation orders (TPOs) and do so in order to protect trees that are an 'amenity' (something desirable or useful) in the area you live in.
They can relate to any type or age of tree and they don’t cover hedges, bushes or shrubs. Groups of trees and areas of woodland can be covered as well as a single tree.
What does a TPO mean in practice?
A TPO means that you can’t:
- cut down
- wilfully damage
- wilfully destroy…
…a tree protected by that order.
It also means you can’t cause or permit other people to do any of these things. If you do you’ll be found liable and may end up in court facing a very large fine.
But I already have planning permission…
Planning permission will refer to any TPO - check whether the permission includes any conditions which refer to trees. For example, you might be expected to replace any removed trees with replacements, or you be required to provide protection for remaining trees.
Carrying out work on a tree subject to a TPO
If you intend to do any work to a protected tree you’ll need to submit an application form to your local LPA and if they feel there’s a good enough reason to do the work, you may be allowed to do it.
Trees in conservation areas
Even if the tree isn’t protected by an individual TPO, if it lies within a conservation area you’ll have to notify the LPA of any proposed work you want to do to it at least six weeks before work starts.
This is a 'section 211 notice' and gives the LPA time to consider issuing a TPO if they consider the tree needs to be protected.
Revoking a TPO
You can ask to have a TPO removed but this will have to be by way of submission of a planning application and you may well not be successful.
So, although trees themselves don’t come under the remit of the building regulations (although their effect on foundations and drains in different soil conditions does) if they fall under a tree preservation order they can have an enormous effect on what you can and can’t build.