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Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

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.

What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

A Tree Preservation Order is an Order made by a Local Planning Authority (LPA) in respect of trees. A Tree Preservation Order provides a tree with an increased level of legal protection greater than that afforded to a tree which may be located within a Conservation Area.

A TPO makes it an offence to cut down, uproot, prune, damage or destroy a tree or its parts without prior consent from the LPA. Failure to seek such consent before carrying out any work may result in a prosecution.

A TPO can apply to a single tree, a group of trees, a woodland or an area of trees. TPO’s can only apply to trees; they cannot apply to bushes, shrubs or hedges (unless an original hedgerow has reverted to a line of maturing trees). A tree subject to a TPO can be of any size, species or age.

The Planning Department may make a TPO if it decides that the tree(s) offers a high level of amenity value providing a positive contribution to the landscape and, were it to be felled for example, the loss of the tree would have a significant impact on the environment and any enjoyment of the tree experienced by members of the public.

A TPO does not mean that the council owns the tree nor does it mean the council are responsible for maintenance costs. Liability and responsibility for the tree still remain with the tree or land owner as before.<

Objections, Proposed Works and Appeals

The planning department has to justify the making of a TPO and through a consultation process the tree owner or any other ‘interested party’ may object to the serving of an Order should they consider the TPO to be inappropriate. The tree owner may wish to consider seeking independent arboricultural advice at this stage.

Once the TPO has been served to all interested parties, any objections to the Order must be submitted to the council within at least 28 days. Once served, the council has six months in which to decide whether or not to confirm the Order and make it permanent. If the Order is not confirmed within 6 months, the Order will lapse.

Should you wish to apply for works to be undertaken to a tree subject to a TPO you must submit an application to the council stating the reasons for the works required and provide accurate and clear specifications describing the work proposed making it clear exactly which tree(s) the application relates to, reasons for some works may need to be supported by an accompanying report provided by a qualified arborist. Failure to provide such specific details may invalidate your application or delay the process. Once validated, the council will determine your application within an 8 week time frame.

Please be advised that should you or your selected contractor undertake unauthorised works to a tree which may be subject to a Tree Preservation Order then both you and your contractor may be liable to prosecution.

Making an Application

The simplest way to submit a planning application for works to trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order is online via the Planning Portal (external link). Registration is straight forward and you can complete your application form, upload supporting documents such as maps, photos. There is currently no charge for applying for works to trees subject to a TPO.

The benefits of applying online include:


Should your application to prune or fell a tree be refused by the council or not determined by the council within the 8 week time frame then you are able to appeal.

Further information on appealing against a decision notice may be found on the Planning Portal (external link).

There are exemptions within the Act which may allow the owner of the trees to carry some work to the tree without consent. One such exemption is the removal of dead, dangerous or damaged trees or their parts. Should you consider such an exemption may apply then you should contact a qualified arborist or contact us to seek further advice.