Every week our Woods under Threat team gets a variety of questions about Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). So in this post I will endeavour to answer some of the most frequently questions I’m asked.
How does a TPO protect trees and woods?
Our woodlands are precious, and vulnerable. Every day we hear from people who are concerned about losing, or are actively opposing, threats to woods and trees - even ancient trees. A TPO can keep the trees (and woods) that are important to you protected from well, the chop.
If a tree or wood is protected by a TPO or is in a conservation area, you will need to apply to the Local Planning Authority (usually the local council) to carry out any management (such as lopping and topping) on the tree, and to remove the tree. If permission is not sought from and given by the council, then they have the ability to prosecute – you could be fined between £2,500 and £20,000!
How do I get a TPO on a tree/wood?
If you are interested in placing a Tree Preservation Order on a tree or wood, one of the first things you need to do is to contact the council and ask to speak to the Tree Officer, or the person at the council who has the same powers.
Make sure when you talk to them about getting a TPO that they are aware why you feel that the tree needs to be protected: usually TPOs are placed on a tree or wood that’s deemed to be a local amenity. Remember though – making a TPO is a discretionary power, therefore the council does not have to place a TPO on any tree. However where one is made, the council do then have the duty to enforce it.
Within the first six months of a TPO it can be confirmed or terminated at any time. It can also be modified in this time period, however you can’t add more trees to the TPO in this time period. If more trees need to be added then usually a new TPO will be created by the council.
There is a tree that already has a TPO however they want to fell it, what can I do to protect it?
If someone wants to fell a tree that’s already protected by a TPO they must submit an application to the council to do so. This application will have a consultation period attached, which is the perfect opportunity for you to contact the council and submit your objection.
We would also recommend that you consider getting the local community involved and encourage as many people as possible in your local area to also contact the council and object to the proposed removal of the tree.
A tree has been felled that has a TPO on it. Is another tree meant to be planted?
Yes. If a tree has been felled which is protected by a TPO the landowner is under a duty to replace the tree, this is also true if the tree is dead, dying or has become dangerous.
The duty on the landowner is:
(1) to plant another tree,
(2) of an appropriate size and species,
(3) at the same place,
(4) as soon as he or she reasonably can.
If the land is sold before the landowner has replanted the tree, then this duty passes to the new owner.
When the tree is replaced it is covered by the original TPO no matter what the new species is. The council should generally then update the TPO to make sure it covers any slight changes to the location or changes to the species.
Why are they allowed to fell this tree that has a TPO on it for this development?
A tree that is protected by a TPO can be felled for a development, because if planning permission is granted for a site, and the felling of a tree that is protected by a TPO is included in the application, then planning permission outweighs any protection that the TPO may have offered. However if a tree protected by a TPO does need to be felled, there is a duty for the landowner to replace the tree.
I hope this is useful. Please look out for my next post where I will be talking about illegal felling.
Katharine Rist, Woods under Threat Assistant