Tree surgeons have to understand and comply with different types of tree protection. Many trees in the UK are protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), conservation area designation, national and local planning conditions, felling licences or one or more restrictive covenants.
TPOs are made by local planning authorities. They protect specific trees or group of trees in the interests of amenity. Here are the different regulations that apply:
- In England: Town and Country Panning (Tree Preservation) Regulations 2012
- In Wales: Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999
- In Scotland: Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation Order and Trees in Conservation Areas) Regulations 2010
- In Northern Ireland: Planning (Trees) Regulations 2015
Anyone who fells, tops, lops, uproots or wilfully damages a tree subject to a TPO is committing an offence, tree surgeons included. It is also an offence for a client to permit a tree surgeon to carry out work without having been granted prior consent. The local planning authority must give their consent before any work is carried out.
Some exemptions apply. For example, consent is not required to remove dead trees or a branch that is posing a risk to public safety.
When consent is given for work on a tree subject to TPO, some conditions will limit the scope of the work and require it to be completed within a specific time. You can view the full guidance on the Planning Portal website.
A notice of at least six weeks before the proposed work must be given to the local planning authority before any work can be carried out. Planning officers will then decide whether to consent to the work or make a TPO in respect of the tree. If the local planning authority does not respond to the notice within the six weeks, then it can be considered as tacit consent. Tree surgeons must contact their local authority to check if the work planned takes place in a conservation area.
If a tree is posing an immediate risk to public safety, then no notice is required. Are also exempt from the notice trees with a diameter no more than 7.5 centimetres and that have not grown more than 1.5 metres.
If the local planning authority makes a TPO, a TPO consent will be required before any work can start. Tree surgeons usually apply for TPO consent or submit a conservation area notice on behalf of their clients (particularly non-commercial clients).
Tree surgeons usually apply for TPO consent or submit a conservation area notice on behalf
of their clients, particularly for non-commercial clients. TPO consent applications and conservation area notices must be submitted online using the appropriate national portal:
- In England and Wales: Planning Portal
- In Scotland: E Planning Scotland
- Northern Ireland: Planning NI
Consents are issues free of charge.
For more information about tree protection, you can check the Arboricultural Association website.