GUIDANCE NOTES ON TREE PRESERVATION ORDERS
What is a Tree Preservation Order?
A Tree Preservation Order is an Order which provides protection for an individual tree or a group of trees. The power to make such an Order lies with the Local Authority in whose area the tree(s) exist. The Local Authority’s purpose is to preserve amenity and retain trees which blend into the environment and would if removed be a Loss to the Amenity and Appearance of a locality. The Local Authority must consider Representations made by the Locality before confirming a TPO, but ultimately the decision is the Local Authority. Applications to make a TPO can be made by individuals. Governed by Sections 198 and 202a of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990” Act), Section 192 of the Planning Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”) and The Town and Country Planning Tree Regulations 1999.
What is the Effect of a Tree Preservation Order?
The effect of a TPO is that an owner of land upon which a tree, subject to a TPO, is made cannot carry out any of the following without the consent of the Local Authority TPO Officer
- Cutting down of trees
- Topping of trees
- Lopping of trees
- Uprooting of trees
- Wilful damage of trees
- Wilful destruction of trees
To carry out such work without consent under TPO is a Criminal Offence, unless it can be shown that
- The tree in question is dead, dying, or dangerous
- Work is required to comply with a Statutory Obligation
- Work is necessary to abate an “actionable” Common Law or Statutory Nuisance- The Courts have held that where the nuisance (permeation of tree roots) is causing actual damage to someone else’s Property or there is an imminent threat of damage, this alone is not sufficient for the tree to be cut down. The Law provides that all alternative options (alternative engineering solutions) to abate the nuisance must be considered.
How Will I Know Whether My Property Has A Tree(s) The Subject Of a TPO?
The designation is recorded as a Local Land Charge in the Local Authority Official Search and therefore should be known to you when you purchase. Alternatively the Local Authority may make an application during your period of ownership or you or a neighbour may make the application.
So Where Does This Leave Me Owning Land With a Tree The Subject of a TPO?
- Our bringing to your attention that you have a tree or a group of trees the subject of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) means that you should not do anything to the tree(s) without the express consent of the Local Authority
- The health and preservation of the tree(s) is/are paramount
- You should obtain advice from a suitably qualified Arboriculturalist as to the health of the tree at regular intervals
- You should ensure that your Building Insurance Company is aware of the tree(s). This is because if the tree(s) cause damage to either your property and or a neighbours property that you will have the comfort of knowing that any damage caused by the tree, will be met by the Insurance Company (subject to you paying your excess)
- No steps should be taken to cut down, reduce in height, lop, remove branches, wilfully damage or destroy any tree the subject of a TPO without consultation with the Local Authority Tree Preservation Officer and any works carried out should be strictly in accordance with that instructed by the Officer
- Please remember that a Local Authority will want you to look at all alternative engineering solutions, before agreeing to any steps being taken to cut down, reduce in height, lop, remove branches, to any such tree
NOTE: Trees not the subject of a TPO but in a Conservation Area have a degree of protection as if a TPO- Section 211 of the 1990 Act provides that a landowner must not cut down, lop, top, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy such tree without first giving notice to the Local Authority Conservation Officer. The Local Authority has six weeks to decide whether to make a tree the subject of a TPO.