A Guide To Protecting Trees In The Community and the High Hedge Act
Local Planning Authorities have specific powers to protect trees by making Tree Preservation Orders. Special provisions also apply to trees within conservation areas designated by local planning authorities. The information given below is written for the benefit of tree owners, the general public and amenity groups and answers some of the most commonly asked questions about Tree Preservation Procedures. It is for guidance only and is not a statement of the law. You should consult a solicitor if you are unsure of your legal rights or obligations.
More information on Tree Preservation Orders is available at the bottom of this page.
Please note that before submitting a planning application it may be prudent to contact the Tree Preservation Officer to obtain help and advice on information that will be needed to validate an application. The Tree Preservation Office can be contacted on 01543 464307.
The High Hedge Act
High Hedges have become a problem to local residents in some respect and action can now be taken if required to deal with these matters. Click on the links below to access information. Please note that the fee for dealing with a high hedge application is £486.68 and must be submitted with the relevant forms together with evidence after all avenues to resolve the matter have been sought.
For further information please ring the Council number 01543 462621 and ask to speak to a member of the Environmental Services team.
High Hedges - Complaining To The Council
High Hedges - Complaints, Prevention and Cure
Trees and Problem Hedges
High Hedges - Height Height and Light Loss
High Hedge Complaints Form
Tree Preservation Orders
A Guide To Protecting Trees In The Community
What Is A Tree Preservation Order or TPO?
A Tree Preservation Order is an order made by the local authority which generally makes it an offence to cut down,top,lop,uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without the planning authority's permission.
What Is The Purpose Of A Tree Preservation Order?
The purpose of an order is to protect trees which are deemed to be of significant impact to the local surroundings especially if they are in immediate danger. All types of trees including hedgerow trees can be covered but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. To gain consent to work on a protected tree an application form giving full details must be completed and submitted to the local authority for consideration. Work can only commence once consent is granted by the authority.
How Can I Find Out If A Tree Is Covered By An Order?
Details of orders are available for inspection at the local authority. Official searches can be made to reveal the existence of a Preservation Order or whether a property is in a conservation area, when purchasing a property these searches are carried out and solicitors should inform their clients if trees are protected.
When the local authority applies for an order, the owner of the tree and other interested parties will be written to enclosing a copy of the order. If anyone wishes to object or support the order a letter must be forwarded to the authority within the time period which will be stated on the letter. The planning authority will take any comments into account when deciding whether or not to confirm the order. Once the order is confirmed details will be sent out to interested parties. A number will be allocated to the preserved tree or group of trees which will be kept on files at the authority for future reference. Once the order is made the owner of the tree remains responsible for the condition and any damage that is caused. Permission to work on any preserved tree must be obtained as described above.
If work is carried out on a protected tree which damages or destroys the tree without consent you could face a fine of up to £20,000 if convicted in the magistrates court. In determining the amount of the fine, the court will take into account any financial benefit arising from the offence. For other offences you could be fined up to £2500.00. You will normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.
Applications to work on protected trees is sometimes refused and if this happens you can appeal to the Secretary of State in writing within 28 days of receiving the decision. Appeals are normally decided without a formal hearing, on the basis of written statements followed by a site visit. Both you and the local planning authority have the right instead of a public local inquiry or hearing. The Secretary of State may allow or dismiss the appeal or vary the original decision.
If I See Work Being Carried Out On A Protected Tree, How Can I Find Out If The Owner Has Permission?
Contact the Trees, Landscape & Countryside Team who will check records to see if the tree in question has a protection order on it. If the tree concerned is protected the Tree Officer will investigate and take the necessary steps to stop work being carried out until permission has been granted.
There Are Trees Which I Think Should Be Protected. What Can I Do?
Contact the TLC Team giving details of the trees and the reasons why you think the trees should be protected. The Tree Officer will make an assesment and decide whether or not the trees form a prominent landscape feature in the area and also adds to the amenity of the area.
What Must I Do If I Want To Fell A Tree Protected By A Tree Preservation Order?
You must write to the local planning authority to seek permission, specifying the tree, what you want to do and why. You may find it helpful to consult a tree surgeon to clarify what you need to do. The Arboricultural Association has a list of approved tree surgeons on their website. Alternatively you can write to Ampfield House, Ampfield, Romsey, Hants SO5 9PA or telephone 01794 368717.
Can I Get Compensation If My Application To Carry Out Work On Protected Trees/Woodland Is Refused Or Conditions Are Imposed?
If consent to work on a protected tree is refused or granted with conditions you can seek compensation from your local planning authority for any loss or damage which results. However you cannot make a claim where, under the terms of the order, the planning authority has issued a certificate saying either;
- That the refusal or condition is in the interests of good forestry or
- That the trees or woodland have an outstanding or special amenity value.
Claiming compensation under a Tree Preservation order must be done within 12 months of its decision, or that of the Secretary of State if you appealed.
Restrictions in a Conservation Area.
If you wish to work on trees not protected by a Tree Preservation Order but in a Conservation Area, you must notify the local authority giving six weeks notice in writing. You must not carry out any work until consent has been given. If you do you could be fined as described above. You may also have to plant a replacement tree. Confirmation of designated conservation areas can be obtained from the local authority.
Useful Contact Details
Forestry Commission's booklet Tree Felling - Getting Permission.
The Forestry Commission
231 Corstorphine Road
Website: The Forestry Commission
Last Updated: 30/08/2023