Many trees are protected by tree preservation orders which mean that, in general, you need the council's consent to prune or fell them. In addition, there are controls over trees in conservation areas.
Legislation concerning Tree Preservation Orders is contained within The Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The following notes provide a very brief summary of the legislation.
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority (LPA) in respect of trees. The order makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, damage or destroy the tree or trees in question. A TPO can apply to a single tree, a group of trees or woodland. TPO's can only apply to trees; they can not apply to bushes, shrubs or hedges (unless the hedge has reverted back to a line of individual trees). The tree under order can be of any size, species or age.
The Planning Department may make a TPO if it decides that the tree offers amenity value to the surrounding area, and that its loss would have a significant impact on the environment and its enjoyment by the public. The tree(s) would normally be visible from a public place and would make a positive contribution to the landscape. The Planning Department has to justify the placement of a TPO and the tree owner can object to the placement of such an order.
A TPO does not mean that the Council now owns the tree nor does it mean that they are responsible for the cost of its maintenance.
It is important not to confuse trees subject to TPO's with trees located within Conservation Areas; the legislation is completely different.
The removal of trees from within woodlands & forests may also require permission from Natural Resources Wales. Further information can be obtained from their website: http://naturalresourceswales.gov.uk/apply-buy-report/apply-buy-grid/timber/tree-felling-licence/?lang=en
Once the Council have served the initial notice, any objections to the Tree Preservation Order must be made to the Council within 28 days. The TPO must be confirmed by the Council within 6 months for it to become permanent, otherwise it will lapse (the Council can confirm it at a later date).
Anyone wishing to carry out works to a tree must submit an application stating the reasons for the works required and making it clear which trees the application relates to. The Planning Department should respond to applications for works within a period of 8 weeks. Should the Council refuse to grant permission for the requested works the applicant may appeal to the Secretary of State; this should normally be made within 28 days.
Appeals can be made in respect of other items such as:
A TPO is made to prevent anyone from felling or pruning the tree without the consent of the Planning Department. This does not necessarily mean that you can't eventually prune or fell the tree, it simply means that you must obtain permission from us first.
There are exemptions in the Act, which allows a tree owner to carry out some works without consent. This applies to the removal of dead, dying or dangerous trees or parts of a tree. A common example would be the removal of dead wood (dead branches).
A tree owner would be advised to request an inspection by the Council’s Tree Officer prior to carrying any works to a protected tree that they think is dead, dying or dangerous giving at least 5 days notice so that he/she can confirm the health of the tree (unless works are required in an emergency). It is the tree owners’ responsibility to provide proof that the tree was indeed dead, dying or dangerous to the Council’s Tree Officer to prevent court action being taken. A statement from a qualified tree surgeon or photographic evidence may be acceptable.
Other exemptions include works by Utility Companies, trees on Airports, Defence Installations or where Planning Permission has been granted.
The courts have powers to fine anyone damaging a protected tree. The maximum fines are £20,000 for destroying a tree and up to £2,500 for anyone who does not completely destroy a tree but has carried out works without consent. It is not a acceptable for a defendant to plead that they were unaware that a tree was protected unless the Council were the cause of such ignorance.
The simplest way to submit a planning application is online via the Planning Portal. (www.planningportal.gov.uk/apply) Registration is easy and you can complete your application form, upload supporting documents and pay fees online.
The benefits of applying online include:
You can work on your applications in draft before submission
If you prefer you can complete your application form online and submit supporting documents and fees by post. Please note a planning application cannot be progressed until all the necessary supporting information and the appropriate fee is received. Get started on the Planning Portal. (www.planningportal.gov.uk/apply)
Most planning applications are now submitted online but applications can also be sent to us by post. You can use our 'Paper Form Chooser' (www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/applications/paperforms) to download forms as PDF documents allowing you to print them out for offline use. Your application must be accompanied by the necessary plans of the site, the completed form and the fee.