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Tree Preservation Orders and Trees in Conservation Areas

There are two types of statutory designation that may apply to trees in private ownership: the Tree Preservation Order (TPO), which applied to trees at individual addresses and locations, and the Conservation Area, wherein a level of blanket protection exists applying to all trees above 75mm diameter when measured at 1.5 metres up the stem. Penalties for unauthorised work to such trees are broadly similar, attracting fines up to £20,000 for wilful destruction of protected trees.

Tree Preservation Orders

As a local planning authority (LPA) Wyre Council has an obligation under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to make TPOs " if it is considered expedient to do so."

Usually the test for expediency is whether or not there is a clear threat to the tree such as heavy pruning or felling. Most TPOs are made in response to a planning application that would result in tree losses but occasionally they arise for other reasons - because a 'feature' tree in a front garden is to be removed, for example. Wyre Borough has saved policies in its local plan that reflect a desire to preserve trees in the development process, and we ask that developers and architects use the presence of important trees on sites to inform the design and layout rather than to assume the trees can be removed prior to development.

Not any and every tree is a suitable TPO candidate. The basis of the preservation order is usually public visual amenity, so in essence the tree should not only be a healthy one of good form but should also be visible from a public place. Young trees may be protected on the basis of future visual amenity.

Members of the public often request TPOs are made on landmark trees simply as an increased level of protection and to reflect the value the community attaches to the tree, but strictly speaking this is unnecessary. Unless a threat exists most councils will not make a TPO on the precautionary principle because it is resource intensive, from the making of the order, which is a legal process, to the administration of it by the tree officer.

TPOs are not usually made on trees that are either owned by the council, by another council or tier of local government, or by organisations regarded by the local planning authority as responsible tree managers - the National Trust for example.

Work to TPOd trees.

When a tree is covered by a TPO anyone wishing to work on it must apply to the local planning authority, via the tree officer, for consent. In 2008 the government began to standardise this process with the introduction of the 1-App form, which is available from our website or from the Planning Portal website.

Exemptions to the TPO restrictions.

While most work to protected trees requires the consent of the local planning authority, the legislation sensibly allows for some key exemptions. Utility companies and service providers usually claim exemption in order to carry out essential line clearance work but will do so in cooperation with the tree officer so that the nature and extent of work is agreed beforehand.

Exemptions to abate hazard.

Private householders may cite exemptions to the TPO under those stated at section 198 (6) (b) of the TCPA 1990. If you have a recently TPOd tree on your property you will find these listed at paragraph 5 of the legal document.

If your tree is diseased, dying or dangerous you can notify the tree officer using a "five day notice" of your intention to remedy the hazard by pruning or felling. The tree office will usually attend to confirm this and accept the notice if appropriate. When a tree is felled using this exemption there is an automatic replacement condition and the replacement tree effectively inherits the modified TPO.

Deadwood can be removed from the tree without application under the TPO. You are advised to record the deadwood beforehand and must not take living tissue from the tree.

Exemptions and Nuisance

Although scope for work to abate nuisance exists under the exemptions criteria the legal definition of nuisance remains unclear and the outcome has been a history of prosecutions for unauthorised work on this basis. At Wyre Borough Council we consider this both undesirable and avoidable.

It is important to remember that your own tree cannot comprise a legal nuisance to you - you cannot claim to be nuisanced by your own property - therefore if it applied at all this circumstance could only apply to a neighbouring property. This is a grey area and one where a conversation with the tree officer can save future stress.

At Wyre Borough Council we would rather engage in discussion and arrive at an agreed outcome. You are welcome to contact the tree officer to discuss the implications of tree preservation orders at any time during normal business hours.

Trees in Conservation Areas

The Conservation Area designation automatically confers blanket protection to every tree within its parameters. A tree in this instance is defined as anything with a stem diameter above 75mm when measured at 1.5 metres.

This does not apply to hedges in Conservation Areas.

A person wishing to carry out work to a tree (as defined above) that falls in a Conservation Area must send the local planning authority a notice of his or her intention to do so. This is referred to as a Section 211 Notice, and its purpose is to allow the LPA six weeks in which to evaluate the tree and respond, if necessary, with a TPO to prevent the work or control the extent of the work proposed.

Section 211 Notices can be issued in writing but it is recommended that you use the Planning Portal online application form

If you have issued the LPA with a Section 211 Notice you should not carry out tree work until either you have received confirmation of acceptance of the notice or the six-week period has elapsed.

For more information please contact our Tree and Woodland officer

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