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Tree Protection Orders Explained

Trees are an essential part of our environment, providing us with shade, beauty, and clean air. But trees are also vulnerable to damage and destruction, from human activity to natural causes.

That’s where Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) come in. A TPO is a legal order that protects trees from being cut down, topped, lopped, uprooted, or wilfully damaged. TPOs are made by local planning authorities (LPAs) and can be applied to individual trees, groups of trees, or even whole woodlands.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what TPOs are, how they work, and who can apply for them. We’ll also discuss the different types of trees that can be protected by a TPO and the penalties for breaking the law.

So if you need more advice about TPO’s or a tree that you need dealing with, contact us ! We offer services across the West Country including the following locations of Bath, Bradford-on-Avon, CalneChippenham, Corsham, Devizes, Malmesbury, Melksham, Peasedown St John, Royal Wootton Bassett, Swindon, Trowbridge, Warminster, and Westbury.

What is a tree preservation order?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a legal order made by a local planning authority (LPA) to protect trees that have ‘nature conservation’ value. This applies to trees that contribute to make-up, character, or appearance of the local area, and that they provide important environmental habitat to the wildlife that inhabit it.

Once a TPO is made, it is illegal to carry out any of the following activities on the protected trees without the written consent of the LPA:

  • Cutting down
  • Topping
  • Lopping
  • Uprooting
  • Wilfully damaging
  • Wilfully destroying

If you want to carry out any of these activities on a protected tree, you must first apply for consent from the LPA. The LPA will consider your application and decide whether to grant consent.

How do TPO’s get placed?

Anyone can apply for a TPO, but there must be some sort of consultation with the local council. Write to the Planning Authority stating your reasons why you need a TPO. An immediate, temporary TPO can be put in place by the Local Planning Authority. The LPA would then inform local residents and interested parties. A TPO might commonly be used in the case of construction works posing a risk to the health of trees. New planning applications could affect important trees.

What types of trees can be protected by a TPO?

Any type of tree can be protected by a TPO, regardless of its size or species. However, the LPA will only make a TPO if they consider that the tree is of special value:

  • visibility to the general public
  • overall health and appearance
  • suitability of their location and future tree management
  • special factors such as contribution to the character of a conservation area, and whether they have historical significance such.

What are the penalties for breaking the law?

Trees that are considered worth protecting are covered by the TPO that is enforced by the council. All management works or removal of a protected tree must have the permission of the planning authority. Works or removal without permission could end in a fine between £2500 to £20,000.

How to appeal a TPO decision

If you are unhappy with a decision made by the LPA to make or refuse a TPO, you can appeal the decision to the Secretary of State within 28 days of any decision.

Trees provide a wide range of benefits for the environment. These benefits include:

  • Reducing air pollution
  • Providing shade and reducing urban heat island effect
  • Improving water quality
  • Supporting wildlife habitats
  • Enhancing the character and appearance of the local area

The challenges of enforcing TPOs

Enforcing TPOs can be challenging. TPOs do not protect trees if a new development has been given a green light by the planning authority. Protecting trees can also be a challenge given the sheer amount an LPA has to cover.

How do our tree surgeons deal with a TPO situation?

Tree surgeons and anyone who intend to cut down a tree containing more than 5 cubic metres of wood, must apply to the forestry commission. You don’t need permission however if the tree felling takes place in a private garden. There is also a caveat which states that if the tree is dead or positioned in such a way that it is/could become dangerous, you can fell the tree.

TPOs are an important tool for protecting trees and woodlands. They can help to ensure that our trees are protected for future generations to enjoy. If you are concerned about the future of a tree in your local area, you should contact your local LPA to find out if it is protected by a TPO.

At West Country Tree Services, we are pleased to offer superior tree surgery, hedge work, and firewood services across Wiltshire and Somerset. We cover all towns within Wiltshire and Somerset, including Bath, Bradford-on-Avon, CalneChippenham, Corsham, Devizes, Malmesbury, Melksham, Peasedown St John, Royal Wootton Bassett, Swindon, Trowbridge, Warminster, and Westbury.