Tree preservation orders (TPO) were first established under the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947. The purpose of the orders is to protect trees and woodlands which provide an impact to the local area where removal or improper pruning would result in a loss of amenity.
Having been in existence for over 50 years with various additions and revisions the process had become a little complicated and so the government published a consultation paper in September 2012 to consolidate the legal provisions and streamline the system making it fairer and easier for the tree owner to use.
New regulations came into force on 6th April 2012 as The Town and Country (Tree Preservation)(England) Regulations 2012.
Trees covered by a preservation order require a formal application to the local planning authority before work is carried out.
(These regulations apply to England only. They are slightly different for Scotland and Wales).
Fines of up to £20,000 per tree are enforceable for unauthorised work. Before undertaking any work to protected trees, permission must be obtained from the local authority. This process usually takes 8 weeks from the date of submission of a formal application to carry out works to protected trees.
Councils require applications to be provided on a standard form usually downloadable from the council website or hard copies can be obtained from the council offices or by post. Or can be submitted on line via the governments planning website at www.planningportal.gov.uk
Applications require a specific and accurate description and reasons for the proposed works. This must be accompanied with a map indicating the position of the tree(s).
Harrison Arboriculture is able to advise you on what work may be necessary and act as agents submitting a formal application to carry out works to protected trees' on your behalf, if necessary providing a written report in support of your application.
If your local authority refuses permission for the tree-works applied for, you have the right to appeal against the decision within 28 days.
Only decisions relating to applications can be appealed against. There is no ground for appeal against the installation of a TPO however, interested parties (those entitled to fell or prune the tree) must be advised when a TPO is installed and have the opportunity to object.
Harrison Arboriculture can advise you on whether you have reasonable grounds for appeal, and act as agents on your behalf.
The process for making a tree preservation orders means that any representations made against the order must be considered by the council before the TPO is officially confirmed which must be within six months of being served.
TPO's which have objections will normally be put before the councils planning committee who will decide the merits of the order against the opposition.
Objections must be made in writing and Harrison Arboriculture are able to advise you as to whether you have good grounds for objecting and are able to act as agents on your behalf.
Once a Tree Preservation Order has been confirmed, there is no further right of appeal on the merits of the tree. However, it is possible to apply to the High Court for Orders to be quashed on the legality of the Order if the correct procedure in making the order hasn't been followed.
Conservation Areas designated areas which have been identified by the Local Planning Authority LPA) as having special architectural or historic interest and includes not only buildings but includes the overall character of the area including trees.
The local planning authority will require notification before undertaking any works to trees over 7.5cm when measured at 1.5m above the ground level.
The authority then has a maximum of six weeks to assess the trees and if the proposed work will affect the amenity of the conservation area they will install a preservation order to prevent the work and further protect the tree.
Councils will generally only preserve worthy trees ad if you don't hear from them within the six week period you may undertake the works. Many councils will inform you whether there are any objections to your proposals within this period and allow you to proceed with the works.
There are some exemptions including dead and dangerous trees, however the tree owner should be careful before invoking the exemptions as the owness of proof that the tree or trees were dangerous are on the tree owner. This may be difficult to prove once the tree has been removed and could result in a fine of up to £20,000 at Magistrates Court, or an unlimited fine if indicted to Crown Court.
Please contact us for any advice on trees within conservation areas whether a report to back up a notification or advice on exemptions.