Does your land have a TPO? Have you checked? Know your legal responsibilities.

Posted: 24 September 2022

What is a TPO?

A tree preservation order [‘TPO’] is an order made by a local planning authority to protect specific trees. A TPO may protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. TPOs prohibit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage and/ or wilful destruction of trees without the local planning authorities written consent. Consent to carry out works on a protected tree may be given, subject to conditions which must be followed.

The causing, permitting or the carrying out of the aforementioned prohibited activities is an offence under section 210(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 this carries a higher penalty than any other works carried out in contravention of a TPO which is an offence under 210(4) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

A TPO should specify the tree, group of trees or woodlands to which it relates, where the order relates to a group of trees it should specify the number of trees of each species in the group, the position of the trees, group of trees or woodland and may make reference to a map and shall include information relating to whether or not the order was confirmed; any variation of the order; and any revocation of the order. It is important to know which trees in your ownership are subject to a TPO to ensure you follow the laws surrounding the order.

An order will not take effect- other than provisionally, until confirmed by the local planning authority and must be confirmed within six months from the date on which the order was made. A TPO shall take effect provisionally from the date on which it is made until:

(a)the expiration of a period of six months from the date the order was made*

(b)the date on which the order is confirmed; or*

(c)the date on which the authority decide not to confirm the order*

*Whichever first occurs

Does your land have a TPO

How to check if your land has a TPO?

If an order is confirmed, the local planning authority as soon as practicable, should notify the persons interested in the land who will be affected by the order that the order has been confirmed and the date of confirmation.

When a TPO is confirmed the local planning authority shall make a copy of the order available for public inspection, this is free of charge, and available at all reasonable hours, at the offices of the authority by whom the order was made or at the offices of the authority on whose behalf it was made.

What are a tree owners’ responsibilities?

Any person in contravention of a TPO shall be guilty of an offence. It is a criminal offence to carry out any of the prohibited activities. Owners of protected trees must not carry out, cause, or permit any of the prohibited activities without the local planning authorities written consent.

A person guilty of an offence shall be liable to a fine on summary conviction of up to £20,000 or on conviction of an indictment the fine is unlimited.

Anyone can apply for consent to carry out works on a protected tree, it can take up to 8 weeks for a local planning authority to notify you of their decision to grant or deny consent for you to undertake any works.

You do not need the local planning authorities consent to carry out works through obligation under an Act of Parliament, where the tree is dying, dead, or dangerous, or directly in the way of developments which detailed planning permission has been approved, at the request of organisations specified the order, or in a commercial orchard, or pruning fruit trees in accordance with good horticultural practice or likely to cause a legal nuisance.

It is still advisable to notify the local planning authority of any works you intend to carry out under these exceptions, you may still be prosecuted if the local planning authority believe you have carried out unauthorised works.

If a tree is removed, cut down or destroyed without consent, you may be required to plant a replacement tree.

Owners of protected trees are not required to carry out any maintenance work on protected trees although good tree management is encouraged.

Need advice

If in doubt call us on 01245 493959 and ask for our regulatory crime department, we would be happy to advise you.


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