Conservation areas can be designated where there is special architectural or historic interest. This includes the character or appearance of buildings, landscape and public areas that are of special interest. The local planning authority must be notified of any planned work to a tree within a conservation area six weeks in advance so that it can be determined whether or how the work should take place, as well as if another form of protection is needed, such as a Tree Preservation Order. A notice period is not needed if the work is cutting down, topping, lopping or uprooting a tree with a diameter that does not exceed 75mm, or if it involves cutting down or uprooting a tree whose diameter does not exceed 100 mm for the purpose of improving the growth of another tree, for example tree thinning. If you need to carry out any such work, you should always check with your local council first.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)
A TPO is an order made by a local council to protect specific trees, groups of trees, or whole woodland areas. They can be put in place in response to a request from a member of the public and prohibit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, damage and destruction of trees without consent. Typically, the amenity value and nature of the threat to the trees or woods are assessed using several criteria, for example whether it is visible or accessible to the public. The impact of its loss on the local environment, its size and form, rarity, cultural or historic value, contribution to landscape, and other factors such as nature conservation and climate change can also be considered. Once a TPO is in place it is the landowner, rather than the local planning authority, that is responsible for the safety and condition of the tree and any potential damage it may cause.
If a tree is protected by a TPO, an application must be submitted before it can be felled or managed. The application has a consultation period, which is the perfect time for local people to contact the council and submit any objections.
How to protect a tree
If you are concerned about a tree, group of trees or woodland in your area and would like to protect them through the TPO programme, contact the tree officer (or equivalent) at your local council stating why you would like to protect them. A temporary six month TPO can be put into place and any objections must be within 28 days of this; after this time the TPO can be made permanent.