A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is made by the council to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodland which may be at risk from deliberate damage or destruction, or merit special protection because of their amenity value.
A TPO prevents the felling, lopping, topping, uprooting or otherwise wilful damaging of trees without the prior permission of the local planning authority.
The term 'tree' is not defined in the Town 7 Country Planning Act 1990, nor does the Act limit the application of TPOs to trees of a minimum size. Fruit trees, for example, may be included in a TPO provided it is in the interests of amenity to do so.
The dictionary defines a tree as a perennial plant with a self-supporting woody main stem, usually developing woody branches at some distance from the ground and growing to a considerable height and size. For the purposes of the TPO legislation, the High Court has held that a 'tree' is anything which ordinarily one would call a tree.
Making TPO is a 'discretionary' power, and the council does not have to make a TPO. It may depending upon the particular circumstances choose not to serve a TPO.
Once a TPO is made it has immediate effect, but can be confirmed or terminated at any time for a period of six months' time with or without modifications. Modifications can be a change in description or map details, or a removal of certain trees from the order, but cannot include additional trees to be protected.
If the council wants to add trees to the order as originally made it is usually necessary to make a new Order. Regardless of whether a TPO is made the landowner is still responsible for the trees, their condition and any damage they might cause at all times.
Details of Orders, applications for work and decisions are kept by the Council and are available for public inspection.
Which trees can be protected?
Although it is possible to make TPOs on any trees, in practice they are most commonly used in urban and semi-urban settings, for example gardens and parkland. A TPO is to protect trees for the public's enjoyment.
It is made for the 'amenity' of the tree or woodland, and this can include its nature conservation value but more often means its visual amenity. However, it does mean that if a tree is not visible or accessible from a public place a TPO should not be served.
How do I find out more?
If you need specific advice on whether a tree is protected or wish to make an application for works to a protected tree you should contact the Tree Team on 0191 424 7336.