Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas

When you want to do some work on a tree, you must check to see if the tree is protected by a TPO (Tree Preservation Order). These are put in place to protect certain trees. TPO’s can be a complex topic, and if you don’t already know how they work they can be tricky to navigate. If you’re not sure whether your trees have a TPO on them then we at Bronzeleaf Tree Surgery can help. We have many years of experience in checking to see if a TPO is in place and getting permission to work on the trees if they do. Our professional and fully qualified team can advise you on the best course of action and make your life easier by doing all the hard work for you.

Pic of trees in the sky

What are Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas?

A TPO is an order made by a local planning authority to protect woodlands, groups of trees or single trees in the interest of amenity. It protects these trees from deliberate damage and destruction. The value of the tree is judged by the authorities based on its aesthetic value and impact on the local environment. They are crucial in areas in which trees are under threat. TPO’s can apply to any tree, regardless of shape, size or species. There are no specific species of tree that is automatically protected, but a TPO cannot apply to hedges, shrubs, or bushes. A conservation area is an area of land in which you must get planning permission to carry out any work. This includes any felling, removal, pruning, reduction, or other tree surgery. It is a criminal offence to carry out any work on a tree protected under a TPO without getting permission first.

Normal TPO procedures apply if a tree in a conservation area is already protected by a TPO. But if a tree in a conservation area is not covered by a TPO, you have to give written notice to the Local Planning Authority (by letter, email or on the LPA’s form) of any proposed work, describing what you want to do, at least six weeks before the work starts. This is called a ‘section 211 notice’ & it allows the LPA to consider protecting the tree with a TPO. Contact Bronzeleaf tree surgeons to discuss.

If you’re not sure whether a tree has a TPO, you can check here on the Mid Sussex Council website.

Why is tree conservation important?

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”- Chinese proverb

In the modern world, trees are under threat more than ever. Deforestation is a major threat to the environment, and we are seeing huge effects on the well-being of wildlife all over the world. Can you imagine a world without trees? There would be no shade, no trees full of birds singing wonderful songs, and nothing for kids to climb. Without trees, the world would be a very different place. Trees are cut down for many reasons, but when trees are cut down, they take many years to grow back to where the previous tree once was. Overuse of this natural resource is already happening, meaning that some places are experiencing shortages of everything we rely on trees for. These shortages will only get worse as time goes on.

Trees also play an important role in helping to stop climate change. They remove harmful emissions from the air and improve the overall local air quality. Despite their importance, trees only cover 13% of the total land in the UK. This is shocking in comparison to the EU average of 35% tree cover. Experts say that in the UK we should be aiming to double the amount of land that trees cover, but we should also be protecting the trees that we already have. Trees are particularly important in urban areas where pollution is the most prominent to help in maintaining the health of the people that live there. Trees in towns and cities are under constant threat from development, but there are things that you can do to help.

The best way to protect local trees is to get them placed under a Tree Preservation Order. It is best to do this when trees are healthy and aren’t under threat of removal. Anyone can request a TPO, and if it is granted it can take effect immediately. You don’t even have to own the land on which the tree resides. It is important to stress the amenity of the tree and any wildlife it supports when making the request. Once a TPO is in place, the council can prosecute people who ignore the protection orders, and the fines can be very high. Furthermore, if you oppose a development that would be a threat to woods or trees, you can make a formal objection in writing and send it to your local council.

Owl in a tree - by bronzeleaf tree surgery
Tree by a mill

What are the benefits of having healthy trees on your property?

Maintaining the health of your trees can benefit you and your garden in many ways. Healthy trees will attract native fauna, encouraging natural biodiversity to spread across your whole garden. They can also help reduce air pollution and improve air quality because they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, reducing the greenhouse effect. This helps to keep your body healthy as you are less likely to be inhaling harmful pollution in the air. Mature trees help to enrich the nearby soil with nutrients, which helps to benefit other plants in your garden. When in the right position trees can give your house heat reduction and shading of the windows and walls, which keeps your house cooler in hot weather.

If that’s not a good enough reason, there have even been studies showing that proximity to trees can improve your mental health. Spending time around trees have been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve your mood. Furthermore, established and mature trees have been shown to add between 10 and 20% to the value of your property. This is because it makes your property seem more unique, making it stand out to buyers. Furthermore, the help to improve the landscape of a property. It can also increase privacy, another positive factor for many buyers. However, if a tree is not well maintained it can do the opposite and decrease the value of your property. Considering all these reasons, it is vital to maintain the health of your trees, and often the best way to protect trees is to get a Tree Preservation Order.

How do I get permission to work in an area with a Tree Preservation Order?

We at Bronzeleaf Tree Surgery have years of experience in working in conservation areas. We can discuss your needs for the protected area and ensure that the form is completed correctly. It can take between six and eight weeks to have requests approved for this sort of work. There must be a genuine reason for the work the be approved. For example, if the tree is in a position that it may do damage to your property in the event of extreme weather. It may also require work if the tree has a disease or fungus, which may make a tree structurally unsound. Our friendly and qualified team can advise you on what work is needed to make your tree safe and healthy and organise the application for you. We strongly advise that you allow us to complete the application on your behalf as permission may be granted or denied depending on the strength of the application.

laptop, coffee cup, on a wooden desk with a norepad by bronzeleaf
A row of oak trees - bronzeleaf

What happens if a Tree Preservation Order is violated?

A TPO is violated when one does work on the tree in question without being granted permission first by the council. If you are found to be in violation of a TPO the council have the power to take legal action against you. If convicted in the magistrate's court, you could receive a fine of up to £20,000.

You would also be responsible for replacing any tree that is uprooted, removed, or destroyed when in violation of a TPO. It may also be in the contract when doing work on a tree that is under a TPO that you are required to replace it with another of the same size and species.

If you are concerned about someone else being in violation of a TPO, you could ask the landowner or contractor carrying out the work to show you a letter or other document from us which permits them to work on the tree. If they are unable to provide satisfactory documents to prove that they have permission, then you must report it directly to the local council.

Here at Bronzeleaf Tree Surgery we are experienced in all matters to do with TPO’s and can advise you on the best course of action. You can call us directly at 07854 369097 or view our full range of services here.

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