What is the role of the Council's Tree Officer?
The Tree Officer's role covers 3 main areas of work that can be described as follows:
- To provide advice on trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) or within Conservation Areas
- To determine applications for works to preserved trees and to determine notifications of works to trees within a Conservation Area and;
- To consider requests for making TPOs
NB The Council's Tree Officer will not be able to provide advice regarding trees that are not subject to a TPO or within a designated Conservation Area. In these circumstances you are advised to seek your own advice from an independent arboriculturalist or tree surgeon.
What is a Tree Preservation Order?
The aim of a TPO is to prevent unnecessary felling and pruning and to ensure that where felling is permitted, replacement trees are planted. An Order can cover anything from a single tree to woodland. It is a legal document which requires that the written consent of the District Council is obtained prior to the felling or carrying out tree surgery on the specified trees in accordance with the permission and any conditions attached to it.
How do I know if my trees are the subject of a Preservation Order?
If you are the owner of the trees at the time of making the Order, the Order will be served on you (it is also served on neighbouring properties that may be directly affected by the tree). It is then entered on the Land Charges Register held by the District Council. If you buy a property with preserved trees on it your solicitor should advise you following their normal searches of the Land Charges Register.
If you would like to know whether a property is covered by a preservation order or is located in a conservation area, then you can use our online checker. If you are still in doubt, you can contact the District Council's Planning Department.
NB Ignorance of the presence of a TPO is not normally accepted as a valid defence when the legislation is contravened.
Tree Preservation Orders Register
We publish a register of all Tree Preservations Orders made since 1952.
If you wish to request documents relating to tree preservation orders then please use our document request form.
Can I carry out work on preserved trees?
Yes - but you must first obtain the written permission of the District Council. The required form can be found here and can be submitted electronically. Alternatively, you can print and send the completed forms, along with any supporting information, to the Council's postal address. Guidance notes for completing the form can be found here.
You may find it helpful to discuss your proposal prior to completing your application. A meeting can be arranged with the Council's Tree Officer to discuss the nature/extent of the proposed works and such a request should be made using the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org. The Council do make a charge for such a meeting and details of the fee for meeting with a Tree Officer can be found here.
Permission to carry out work on a protected tree is not required if a tree is dead or dangerous. However, in these circumstances you should submit to the Council a 5 Day Notice of the intention to undertake work. Please see the following section for more information.
My protected tree is dead or dangerous, how do I undertake urgent works?
You must give us at least 5 days written notice before you carry out works on a dead or dangerous protected tree. The works should be limited to those which are required to make the tree safe and the onus of proof that the tree was dead/dangerous and that the extent of works undertaken were justified and not excessive rests with you. You are advised to complete and submit the following dead/dangerous tree form, the receipt of which will be acknowledged by the Council. Once your submission has been acknowledged the 5 day period shall be deemed to have started. You may be liable for prosecution should the Council consider that the works undertaken were excessive or that the normal written application should have been made.
When a tree is felled using this exemption there is a legal requirement to replace the tree, even if the tree is covered by Conservation Area legislation, unless this requirement is waived by the Council.
What happens if I carry out work on a preserved tree without the prior consent of the District Council?
You may be liable to an unlimited fine and if prosecuted will have a criminal record. There will also be a legal requirement to replace trees that have been removed or damaged beyond repair.
NB This can apply to anyone involved in a contravention of the legislation including the tree owners, anyone instructing the work to take place and the individuals carrying out the works.
Can I ask for a Preservation Order to be made?
If you feel that there are any trees in need of protection, then please contact us using the online TPO form with the details of the tree(s) and reasons why you think the tree(s) should be protected. We will then assess whether or not it is appropriate to make an Order and let you know of our decision.
Priority for new TPOs is generally given to trees that are considered to be under threat, for example, where development is proposed. TPOs are particularly important where trees are thought to be in immediate danger. The trees should normally be clearly visible from a public place, such as a road or footpath, and easily identified and distinguished. Trees in enclosed rear gardens, with no public views are unlikely to meet this requirement.
In assessing the suitability of a tree for a TPO weight will be given where the loss or damage to the tree(s) would cause significant harm to public amenity. Other factors that will need to be considered include the tree(s) condition, age and remaining life-expectancy, its function within the landscape (such as screening development or industry), its wildlife or historic value and its importance to the local environment.
Do I need permission to carry out work on trees in a Conservation Areas?
In most cases you must give the District Council six weeks notice before commencing any tree works. The form to notify the Council of work on trees in a Conservation are can be found here, and it should be completed and submitted to the Council. Trees with a stem diameter of less than 75mm (approx. 3 inches) measures at 1.5m (approx. 5 feet) above ground or at ground level for multi-stemmed trees are not subject to this legislation.
The Council will then assess the proposals and may serve a TPO if the works are considered inappropriate. If you have not heard anything within six weeks, or if you have received a letter letting you know that the Council do not object, you may go ahead with the work that you notified us of.
If you believe the tree is dead or dangerous you should follow the same procedure as set out for trees that are subject to a TPO.
NB The same penalties apply to contraventions of the Conservation Area legislation and trees subject to a TPO.
Do I need permission to remove a hedgerow?
Under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 (SI No. 1160) it is against the law to remove most countryside hedgerows without permission. A hedgerow removal notice should be submitted to the Council, and if the Council refuses its removal, as it is deemed an important hedgerow, then it must let you know within 6 weeks.
You will need permission to remove a hedgerow, either in whole or part if it is on or runs alongside:
- Agricultural land
- Common Land, including town or village green
- Land used for forestry or the breeding or keeping horse, ponies or donkeys
- A local Nature reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest
You will not need permission if it:
- Is shorter than 20 metres (unless both ends join up with other hedgerows or is part of a longer hedgerow)
- Is in, or borders, your garden
NB Gaps of 20 metres or less are counted as part of the hedgerow. A gap may be a break in the vegetation or it may be filled by, for example, a gate.
However, you are reminded that nesting birds and other wildlife are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is strongly recommended that you ensure none of these are present before removing any vegetation.
If you remove the hedgerow without permission then you may face an unlimited fine and may have to replace the hedgerow.
For further information please read leaflets:
- You and your Trees - A Guide to Preservation
- New Tree Planting - What Should I Choose?
- Landscaping on new Development Sites
If you require further advice on this matter then please contact the Council by email on email@example.com.