Does your tree have a TPO (Tree Preservation Order), or are you located in a conservation area?
If you don't know or are unsure in any way, you must check and obtain permission before any work commences. Whether it's complete tree removal, a crown reduction or even the cutting of a single limb, if you or any contractor you employ carry out any work without the correct licenses, then you will both risk facing hefty fines and criminal prosecution.
It's relatively easy to check if your tree has a TPO or you are within a tree conservation area. All you have to do is visit your local council or planning authority website and use your postcode in combination with a map to check the status of any tree that requires work.
For your convenience, here are links to some of the local planning authority TPO maps:
Any reputable tree surgeon should check the status of the trees he proposes to work on, but we would always suggest you carry out checks yourself for total peace of mind.
If you require permission, you or the contractor must submit the relevant paperwork precisely detailing what you wish to have done and await their decision. If you accept a quotation from Foremans Tree Specialists Ltd and providing we complete the work, we will happily handle all the paperwork free of charge. If you wish to use another contractor or cancel the job once we have applied, the paperwork submission service will be chargeable at the cost of £50 plus VAT.
Permission for the work can take up to six weeks to receive. Still, if the local planning authority or council fail to reply within that timeframe (which is very unusual), you can proceed with the work regardless. With that in mind, we would only suggest proceeding if you have proof of the date you sent the application and you have attempted to contact them to chase up their decision.
If your tree poses a significant health and safety risk (dead, dying or dangerous), the permission time is reduced to five working days. Still, you must gather adequate evidence (photos/videos) to prove the state of the tree to protect yourself from potential prosecution.
What is a Conservation Area?
Conservation areas are locations where you will require planning permission to fell, remove, prune, reduce or carry out any tree surgery on trees over 7.5 cm in diameter, measured 1.5m above the ground level.
What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?
Local Planning Authorities (LPA's) such as councils, boroughs and districts administer Tree preservation orders or TPO's to protect trees that provide significant amenity value to their surroundings.
The authorities judge the value of the tree by considering its aesthetic value and its impact on the local environment. They will also take into account the trees species, size and future potential.
Tree Preservation Orders have proved crucial in areas where trees are under threat.
All trees, but not all hedges, shrubs or bushes, can benefit from the protection of a TPO. A Tree Preservation Order can protect anything from a single tree and groups of trees to all trees within a designated area. A Preservation Order can protect any species, but no species automatically have protection.
Why do councils and local planning authorities put Tree Preservation Orders (TPO's) in place?
Local Planning Authorities implement Tree Preservation Orders to prevent the wilful damage or destruction of trees by any means. Examples of damage or destruction include cutting, pruning, reducing, lopping, topping, uprooting, burning or cutting down any tree. If you or your contractor are found guilty of such an offence, you will be both be held liable and may face criminal prosecution and a fine of an unlimited amount.
You MUST seek permission from the local planning authority before any work commences. You can only dead wood or fell dead trees that have TPO's or are within conservation areas (be sure to take photographic evidence as protection against prosecution). If a tree poses a danger to life or the risk of property damage, you should apply for a five-day emergency permit.
How do I obtain permission to work on Protected Trees or trees in Conservation Areas?
Foremans Tree Specialists Ltd has vast experience in the application process and an excellent track record obtaining permission for work on protected trees. Over the years, we have built good relationships with the local planning authorities and know what work specifications are likely to be allowed. A tree officer assesses each application, so it's essential your request is sensible and the form filled in correctly.
It's also important to give genuine rationable reasons for needing the work to be carried out. For example, a large branch is encroaching on your house, or you have a large tree in decline near a busy road. There are many reasons why work may need completing, and permission being granted or denied will be dependent on the strength of the case you put forward.
That said, we would strongly suggest you allow us to handle the paperwork on your behalf, and this service will be free of charge, providing you contract Formans Tree Specialists Ltd to complete the work.
How do I protect a tree with a Tree Preservation Order?
Do you have a tree on your land or in a location nearby you wish to protect? Whether it's a tree you own or a just tree your fond of, the best way of preserving those trees is to contact your local planning authority, which has the power to invoke a temporary preservation order if they see fit. The temporary TPO lasts for a maximum of six months, giving them time to contact anyone they feel may be affected by the TPO, and it provides said people a chance to challenge the TPO if they so wish.