Tree preservation orders
Tree preservation orders (TPOs) are used to protect trees which have significant impact on the environment or high amenity value, under Section 198 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990. All types of tree, but not hedges, bushes or shrubs can be protected, and a TPO can protect anything from a single tree to all trees within a defined area or woodland. Any species can be protected, but no species is automatically protected by a tree preservation order.
TPOs, as well as Conservation Areas, planning conditions, Felling Licences and Restrictive Covenants can all legally protect many trees in the UK.
The Arboricultural Association’s brief guide to English legislation for trees says “Some trees are protected by legislation, and it is essential that you establish the legal status of trees prior to carrying out works to them. Unauthorised work to protected trees could lead to prosecution, resulting in enforcement action such as fines or a criminal record”.
Arrangements vary between authorities, for example in Salford: The city’s tree preservation orders/conservation areas are plotted on interactive maps. On the mapping layer you should ensure that the TPO and Conservation Area layers are ticked under planning.
Manchester City Council plan to put details of trees protected by a TPO online, and meanwhile suggest that to confirm whether a tree is protected or not email firstname.lastname@example.org with the address and tree details.
Any proposed tree works with a TPO or within a conservation area (with some exceptions, e.g. smaller trees/saplings not included in protection) require the permission of the Council, however, because a tree is protected it does not necessarily mean that the Council will object to felling. Often in conservation areas there are inappropriate trees (usually poor species or planted in wrong locations) or trees that are dying or dead. In many of these circumstances the Council will agree to tree removal and make recommendations on replanting with appropriate species.
TPOs have not always stopped developers from chopping down trees but at least they offer some chance of prevention as we know how important it is for our planet to nurture our trees, it would be a tragedy if we did not do what we could to protect this one for now and the future.
See the links below for more information –
- Friends of the Earth’s briefing: Protecting trees, woodlands and hedgerows: a practical guide
- the government’s guide to tree preservation procedures
- the Arboricultural Association’s ‘A brief guide to legislation for trees‘