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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We receive a significant number of enquiries each year about Tree Preservation Orders.  So that we may help you, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions.

What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

It 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.

What is the purpose of a Tree Preservation Order?

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

What type of trees can be covered by a Tree Preservation Order?

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

Who makes Tree Preservation Orders in Derbyshire?

The districts, boroughs, Derby City and Peak District National Park authorities usually make all new TPOs. The county council can only make new TPOs in exceptional circumstances, however, the county council still administers all of its TPOs made before 1999.

How will I know when the authority makes a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

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

How can I find out if a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

Contact Call Derbyshire on 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.

What happens if I carry out work on a protected tree without permission?

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 will normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.

Do I always need the authority's permission to work on a protected tree?

Yes, 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 five 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.

What do I do if I want to work on a legally protected tree?

You can contact Call Derbyshire on 01629 533190 and request a paper application form to be posted to you or download the application form on our Tree Preservation Orders page.

Do I need a Forestry Commission felling licence to cut down trees covered by a TPO?

Whether or not a Tree Preservation Order is in force you must first apply to the Forestry Commission for a felling licence if you want to cut down trees containing more than five cubic metres of wood - as long as no more than two 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. Further information on felling licences can be found on the Forestry Commission website (please use the link in related links section).

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.

If I don't need the authority's permission, do I still have to inform you of any work I intend to carry out?

Yes. You are advised to give us at least five 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 have carried out unauthorised work.

If a tree is imminently dangerous and five days notice cannot be given to the council (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.   

Can I carry out work on protected trees which are in the way of proposed development?

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 i.e. district, borough, city or national park.

When will I have to plant a replacement tree?

You will 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 the council says you need not or if the council gives you permission to cut down a protected tree but makes replanting a condition of its 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 five 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 I see work being carried out on a protected tree, how can I find out if the owner has permission?

Check with the Tree Preservation Officer by contacting Call Derbyshire on tel:01629 533190.

Does a Tree Preservation Order come into effect immediately?

The council can, if it chooses, make a Tree Preservation Order which will come into effect immediately and will continue for six 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.

Can I ask the council to make a new TPO?

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

Who do I contact to request a new TPO?

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

  • when the council has an interest in the land
  • when the trees cross two district boundaries
  • when the trees are in a National Park
  • where the county council is granting planning permission

You can find contact details for other council's in Derbyshire on our Other councils page.

After granting a TPO does the authority become responsible for looking after the tree?

No. The owner remains responsible for the trees, their condition and any damage they may cause. The council's 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.

Where can I get more information about TPOs?

The Department of Communities and Local Government has published "Tree Preservation Orders: A Guide to the Law and Good Practice”. This is available to download from their website (please use the link in the related links section). 

If you feel there is an issue that needs adding or you wish to ask a question please phone Call Derbyshire on tel:01629 533190.