Tree Preservation Orders (TPO's)
A tree preservation order (TPO) is a legal process designed to prevent indiscriminate felling of trees that are of local or historical importance.
This is something all garden owners should bear in mind if they are considering felling established trees on their own or adjacent property.
Bushes, shrubs and hedges are not covered by TPO's.
The order is only applied to trees that have a trunk diameter of 75mm (3") or more at 1.5m above ground level.
A TPO prohibits the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, root pruning, wilful damage or destruction of trees without consent from the planning authority, unless there is an immediate risk to health and safety.
A list of TPO's will be held in the land registry of your local authority so check there first if contemplating any tree surgery.
Your solicitor should have notified you of any TPO's on your property when he/she did the land search prior to you purchasing your property.
Such orders obligate the landowner and/or occupier responsible for protection of such trees trees, and for any health and safety risks they pose.
Any works to such trees, excluding the routine pruning of fruit trees and instances of immediate risk to health and safety, require permission from the local planning authority.
Failing to do follow this procedure can result in fines of up to £20,000 for unauthorised interference with a protected tree/s.
Local planning authorities have to give notice to owners/occupiers, and to advertise proposed TPO's.
The local authority generally requires five to six weeks notice of what work you would like to carry out.
A report from bona fida tree surgeons may aid your application.
In the event that the application is turned down an appeal and compensation procedures exists to take the matter further.
If a tree needs to be felled, the authority may insist on a similar replacement being planted.
If you wish to protect a tree, write to your local authority stating your reasons, and including a map for identification, they may issue a temporary TPO until all procedures have been completed.