Working on Protected Trees
Carrying out work to a protected tree
If you wish to do works to a protected tree, including felling it, you need the consent of the Council. It costs nothing to apply, and if the works are reasonable and necessary and do not affect the local amenity adversely, they will usually be allowed.
Be sure to allow enough time when you apply. The statutory periods for determining an application are:
- 8 weeks for an application under a Tree Protection Order (TPO).
- 6 weeks if the tree is in a Conservation Area.
- 8 weeks for trees protected by planning conditions.
However, our decision may often be well inside these statutory periods. It may be an offence to do works to a protected tree before you have received written consent.
If you are unsure of the work that is required to be carried out to the tree, then use the services of an independent tree contractor.
Some questions and answers can be found in the Department for Communities and Local Government booklet Protected trees: A guide to tree preservation procedures this booklet is provided on the GOV.UK website.
Making an application
If you wish to carry out work to protected trees in your garden or a neighbour’s garden, it will first be necessary to submit a written application to the council.
Anyone can submit a works application for a tree, even if it is not their own. If you do apply for works to a neighbour’s tree the council will inform your neighbour and will ask for their comments. If you do receive consent for the works it is advisable to talk to your neighbour about the work, but you will need their consent if you need to cross the boundary into their land, even if it is to climb the tree.
Note: Please ensure that you submit all the relevant information, the species of trees, the type and extent of the works that you propose (trim or lop is too vague, a percentage or length of branch to be removed is ideal), a scaled plan showing the positions of the trees relative to buildings and roads. If forms received do not include all the necessary information including signature and date then the application will be returned for amendment.
Submit tree application works online via the Planning Portal website.
You will need to register online and create an planning application account .
Once registered, 'start an online planning application' . As you complete the application a drop-down list will be provided and you will be able to select the TPO form from the list provided.
This online application process has been designed to assist you (the applicant), instructions are provided at all stages to assist you in completing your application.
Apply by Post:
Download and complete the TPO application form (PDF, 879KB, 4 pages).
Tree works guidance notes (PDF, 183KB, 8 pages).
Once the form has been completed please return it to the address provided within the form. Please note using the postal method of application can be subject to delays, using the online method is more efficient.
Process after application has been approved
Receipt of your application will be acknowledged by the service
A site visit will be made to assess the proposals and will need to view the tree from your property so will need access, if you have locked gates or loose dogs please advise us on the form so that we can contact you with an appointment date.
Your proposals will be balanced against the tolerances of the tree, the importance of the tree in the landscape and the effect of the proposals on the tree and location to see if they are justified.
You will receive a decision which will contain details of the tree work the council is prepared to grant. If permission is refused you will receive a detailed reason for refusal and information about how to appeal. The consent given usually lasts for a year to allow time for the work to be carried out. If you do not carry out the work within that time but still want to do the work at a later date you will need to submit a fresh application.
The cost of any works falls to the tree owner.
Please note: If you do apply for works to a neighbour’s tree the council will inform your neighbour and will ask for their comments. If you do receive consent for the works it is advisable to talk to your neighbour about the work, you will need their consent if you need to cross the boundary into their land, even if it is to climb the tree.
Trees protected by conservation areas
Anyone proposing to cut down or carry out works to a tree in a Conservation Area is required to give the council six weeks prior notice in writing. It is helpful to us if the notification is made on the TPO application form; this ensures that we have all the information we need.
Once the council has been notified, a site visit will be made. The Tree Officer will make his decision within the six week period. If you have not heard from the council after six weeks, the work can be carried out. However, if the works you propose are too extreme and are considered to be detrimental to the amenity of the local area then the council may object to the works, and if a reasonable solution cannot be agreed then the council may place a TPO on the tree to provide stronger protection for the tree.
If the tree is dead you are required to give at least 5 days' notice, (written or email) of the proposed work, it is also suggested that you submit photos. Use the normal application form to notify the council of your intention to carry out work to a protected tree under the five day notice procedure and write on the front of the form that you require this application to be determined as a ‘5-day Notice’.
The council, on receiving the notice, will visit the site within five working days of its receipt to assess the validity of the notice. The council will contact you to either:
- Give consent for the necessary tree work.
- Request you to make a formal application for the work required.
Trees are often perceived to be dangerous, but are in fact perfectly safe. A dangerous tree could be defined as one that presents a real threat or causes, or is likely to cause, harm or injury of a serious nature. This could be because the tree is:
- In the latter stages of disease.
- Structurally unstable.
- Has suffered storm damage etc.
If you think you have a dangerous tree then a tree contractor should be contacted for advice.
Immediately dangerous trees
In a few cases the tree can be in such a condition, e.g. dead or dangerous, that presents an immediate danger and a decision has to be made on the fate of the tree before the usual turnaround time for an application can be determined.
If this is the case work can be done to remove the immediate danger only without application (under section 198(6)(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act). However, you must give written notice (by letter or email) of the proposed work as soon as practicable after the work becomes necessary, submitting photos of the tree will help.
Note: This emergency work will only allow you to remove the immediate threat to make the tree safe. It will not allow you to carry out further work to the tree without application. If the tree needs further work you will need to submit an application.
By citing section 198(6)(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act as reason for removing or carrying out work to a protected tree without the consent of the council, the burden of proof is on the party or parties who removed and/or implemented the removal of the tree.
If the council is of the opinion that the tree does not present an immediate danger but you carry out the work without consent you may be liable for prosecution.
Preventing trees becoming dangerous
If you are responsible for the care of a large tree, then it is advisable that it is inspected on a regular basis. In doing this problems can be seen in the early stages and dealt with to prevent any real danger. If the trees have the potential, due to their size, to fall into neighbouring properties or across a public highway it is wise that you have the trees inspected at least every two to three years to ensure their safety. This may help as evidence of care if you had to make an insurance claim concerning the trees.