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Tree Preservation Orders

The purpose of Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) is to protect trees which make a significant impact on their local surroundings.

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

Types of trees covered

All types of trees, including hedgerow trees can be covered by a TPO, but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. The order can cover individual trees, groups of trees and woodlands.

Making TPOs

District and borough councils, Derby City Council and Peak District National Park Authority usually make all new TPOs in Derbyshire. We, the county council, can only make new TPOs in exceptional circumstances. However, we still administer all of our TPOs made before 1999.

Find out if a tree is covered by a TPO

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

Work on a protected tree

If you deliberately destroy a protected 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.

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, where a felling licence has been granted, or when 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
  • through work in line with an obligation under an act of parliament
  • through work requested by 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, please contact Call Derbyshire, tel: 01629 533190.

For details on how to apply to carry out work on a protected tree, please visit our apply for TPO permission page.

Whether or not a TPO 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. 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.

You are 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 us 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 already obtained detailed full planning permission. If a development does not require planning permission (for example, putting up a garden shed) you must apply for permission under the TPO 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 will normally be required to replant a replacement tree if authorised to remove a tree subject to a TPO.

Once replacement trees have been planted they are automatically protected under the same TPO. 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 assess whether it is appropriate to make a new TPO.

You should contact your local district, borough, city or National Park Authority if you would like to request a new TPO. 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

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.