Do I need permission to cut down a tree in my garden?
If the tree has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) placed on it then yes, you will need permission from the council to perform any works to the tree, whether that’s removing a branch or felling the tree. A TPO is a written order created by a local planning authority such as a borough, district or unitary council or national park. The aim of a TPO is to give protection to trees that provide amenity value to the public. It is a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by a TPO, or to cause or permit such actions, without the authority’s permission. If the tree in your garden can be seen and therefore enjoyed by the public it could potentially have a TPO placed upon it.
You can find out if the tree has a TPO by contacting the tree officer at your local council. To request permission to perform tree works you will need to fill in an application form and submit it to the local authority. If you live in a Conservation Area, trees in your garden are still subject to the same rules as trees with TPOs, despite not necessarily having TPOs placed specifically on them. Planning permission will override TPOs if it is necessary for a tree with a TPO to be removed for the development to go ahead. It's also important to bear in mind that it is illegal to fell trees during breeding season as it could result in the destruction of nests.
If the tree does not have a TPO and is not in a Conservation Area then you do not require permission to fell a tree if it is in your garden. Outside of gardens, you might require a felling licence from the Forestry Commission. If you do plan to cut down your tree, please consider whether the above options will solve the issue before opting to fell it.
If you are in any doubt about the legalities of undertaking any works to a tree then look at getting in contact with your local council’s tree officer. Failing that, regional officers for the Forestry Commission may also be able to help advise you on the best way forward.