Tree Surgery


The Local Planning Authority (LPA) enforces tree preservation orders (TPOs) in respect of trees and woodlands.

The principle effect of a TPO prohibits the felling, uprooting, topping, lopping, willful damage or destruction and removal of dead wood of protected trees without the LPA’s formal consent.

The Law

LPA’s are empowered to make Tree Preservation Orders under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Town and Country (Trees) Regulations 1999. The guidance used to interpret the above act is called Tree Preservation Orders - A Guide to the Law and Good Practice.

Trees and Woodlands

A TPO can protect all types of trees. It is not discriminate of species, age or size. TPOs do not cover hedgerows but may cover trees within the hedgerow or a mature hedge that has become a line of trees. Hedges come under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 which regulates the removal of hedgerows. Prior inspection must be made of the tree or hedge to ascertain if any nesting is in progress. If so, under no circumstance must work be carried out. It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to undertake any work of this nature during nesting season and any breach of this regulation could carry a fine of up to £1,000.

Checking for Restrictions

Before undertaking any work to trees, you should check with the LPA if they are;

  • Subject to a Tree Preservation Order
  • Growing within a conservation area
  • Subject to planning conditions

To check any of the above with the LPA you can ring, fax, write or visit your local planning office.
You will need to provide the address and exact location of the tree, the species and the type of work you wish to undertake.
They will inform you if there are any restrictions. Always ask for a reference number and the name of the officer you speak to.

If the tree or trees carry a TPO you must obtain written consent from your local LPA. An application form is available from your Local Planning Authority. You will have to submit a detailed plan of the area (garden), the species, details of the work proposed and the reasons. The application process usually takes approximately 6-8 weeks from submission. The Landscape Gardener can carry out the above procedure on your behalf for a fee of £50.00 per tree.

If the tree is dead, dangerous or dying then you may take the tree down. Proof must be shown that there is an actual danger. Consent is usually granted very quickly in this case, sometimes on the same day.

Failure to comply with the Tree Preservation Order, Town and Country Planning act 1990 and the Town and Country (Trees) Regulations 1999 could result in a fine of up to £20,000 per tree and/or a prison sentence.

In some cases, when felling certain trees that have an accumulative volume of 5 cubic meters or more, or in certain locations, a felling licence may be required from the Forestry Commission. Some of the exemptions for the requirement of a felling licence include private gardens, churchyards, lopping and topping, pruning, pollarding, dead or dangerous trees or felling to prevent the spread of a quarantine pest or disease. Failure to comply with the felling licence regulations can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 or twice the value of the trees and restock of the land concerned, or any other land as may be agreed, and to maintain the replacement trees for up to 10 years. To find out what exemptions apply to felling licences, visit the Forestry Commission's website.

All fines are payable by the person who carried out the work on the tree. If a contractor has been used, the contractor is liable for half the cost and the owner of the property for the other half. It is the responsibility of the owner and the contractor, jointly, to comply with all regulations.

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