Do I need permission before getting work done on a tree?

Tree owners should always check if the trees they wish to work on are protected, either by a Tree Protection Order (TPO), a conservation area or by restrictions put on planning permissions. Contact your local council to find out if a tree is protected or not.

Apart from a few exceptions, tree owners must always seek permission from their local planning authority before starting work on a protected tree. The main exceptions are the following:

  • Dead trees and branches
  • Dangerous trees and branches
  • Prevent a nuisance
  • Fruit trees
  • Highway operations
  • Necessary to implement a planning permission
  • Comply with an act of parliament
  • National security
  • Statutory undertakers

For diseased or dying trees, approval from your local council is necessary before carrying any work, unless there is an immediate risk to cause harm and that the work is required to happen quickly.

Tree owners might find it helpful to discuss the work with a tree surgeon before contacting their local planning authority. You can also try to engage with your local council informally so they can advise you on the process and the protection policies before you formally complete a form.

Tree owners should bear in mind that local planning authorities can prosecute individuals when work has been carried out on protected trees without the required notice or when exemptions have been misused.

For more information on Tree Protection Orders, contact your local planning authority.

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