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Tree preservation orders

We receive a significant number of enquiries each year about Tree Preservation Orders.

What a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by the local planning authority which, in general, makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy a tree without the authority's permission.

Its purpose is to protect trees which make a significant impact on their local surroundings. This is particularly important where trees are in immediate danger.

Types of trees covered

All types or trees, including hedgerow trees can be covered by a Tree Preservation Order, but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. The order can cover anything from a single tree to woodlands.

Making TPOs

The districts, boroughs, Derby City Council and Peak District National Park authorities usually make all new TPOs. We can only make new TPOs in exceptional circumstances. However, we still administer all of our TPOs made before 1999.

When a TPO is first made, we'll write to the owner and other interested parties, enclosing a copy of the Tree Preservation Order.

We can, if we choose, make a Tree Preservation Order which will come into effect immediately and will continue for 6 months, or until it is confirmed, whichever comes first. When we confirm the order, we can modify it, for example by excluding some of the trees.

Find out if a tree is covered by a TPO

To find out if a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), contact Call Derbyshire, tel:01629 533190. Or you can search online using the Derbyshire Mapping Portal.

An official search of the local land charges register can also be made before you purchase a property. This should reveal the existence of a Tree Preservation Order (or whether your property is in a conservation area). Make sure your solicitor tells you if any trees are protected.

Work on a protected tree

If you deliberately destroy a tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £25,000 if convicted in the magistrate's court. In determining the amount of the fine, the court will take account of any financial benefit arising from the offence. Other offences such as unauthorised pruning can carry a fine of up to £2,500. You’ll normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.

You always need permission to work on a protected tree, except for cutting down trees in accordance with one of the Forestry Commission’s grant schemes, or where the commission has granted a felling licence and felling or pruning a tree:

  • which is dead or dangerous - however, you must still inform us of your intentions at least 5 days in advance of work starting
  • when the work is in line with an obligation under an Act of Parliament
  • when the work is at the request of certain organisations specified in the order
  • which is directly in the way of development that is about to start for which full detailed planning permission has been granted
  • in a commercial orchard, or pruning fruit trees in accordance with good horticultural practice

If you are in any doubt, check with our tree preservation officer.

If you want to work on a legally protected tree you can contact Call Derbyshire tel: 01629 533190 and request a paper application form to be posted to you. Or download the application form attached to this page.

Whether or not a Tree Preservation Order is in force you must first apply for a felling licence if you want to cut down trees containing more than 5 cubic metres of wood - as long as no more than 2 cubic metres of any exempt amount are sold in any calendar quarter.

There are exceptions to this rule which are set out in the Forestry Act 1967 and Regulations made under that Act. For example, you do not need a licence for felling trees in gardens.

If a licence is required and the trees are covered by a Tree Preservation Order, the Forestry Commission will deal with your application in consultation with the local planning authority. Where the commission proposes to grant a licence it will first give notice to the local planning authority. In such cases the planning authority has the right to object to the proposal. If it does so the application will be referred for decision to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

You're advised to give us at least 5 days notice before you cut down a protected tree which is dying, dead or dangerous. This is in your best interest as you could be prosecuted if we think you've carried out unauthorised work.

If a tree is imminently dangerous and 5 days notice cannot be given (for example, a tree that has been damaged and is likely to fall within 24 hours) you should take some photographs of the damaged tree before it is felled. These photographs can then be forwarded to the council as proof that the work was necessary for safety reasons.

You can only cut down or cut back protected trees if they are directly in the way of development which is about to start, for which you have detailed full planning permission.

You cannot carry out tree work if you only have outline planning permission. In both cases you are advised to contact the tree preservation officer to discuss the details of the work.

If the development does not require planning permission (for example, putting up a garden shed) you must apply for permission under the Tree Preservation Order in the normal way. If the tree is in a conservation area you must also notify the local planning authority, that is the district, borough, city or national park.

You'll have to plant a replacement tree if you cut down or destroy a protected tree in breach of an order, except in the case of woodland, because the tree is dead or dangerous, unless we say you need not or if we give you permission to cut down a protected tree but makes replanting a condition of our consent.

Replacement planting should take place as soon as practicable after tree felling is completed.

If tree felling is completed during dry summer months we normally allow replacement planting to be delayed until the next available winter planting season. The winter planting season runs from 1 October to 31 March each year. Trees planted during the winter months are usually more successful than trees planted during spring and summer.

Once replacement trees have been planted they are automatically protected under the same Tree Preservation Order. If a replacement tree dies during the first 5 years after planting you will be required to plant another replacement tree. In order to avoid additional expense we recommend you plant and maintain your tree correctly.

If you see work being carried out on a protected tree, you can find out if the owner has permission by contacting Call Derbyshire, tel: 01629 533190.

New TPOs

Anyone can request a new TPO be placed on trees particularly if they believe the trees to be under threat. We'll then make an assessment of whether it is appropriate to make a new TPO.

You should contact your local district, borough, city or National Park Authority. We can no longer make new TPOs except in the following circumstances:

  • when we have an interest in the land
  • when the trees cross 2 district boundaries
  • when the trees are in a national park
  • where we're granting planning permission

You can find contact details for other councils in Derbyshire.

After granting a TPO the owner remains responsible for the trees, their condition and any damage they may cause. Our permission is required before carrying out work on them, unless they are dead or dangerous - although you must still inform us if this is the case.

We may be able to offer appropriate help and advice on how the trees should be managed.