Legal Series: Understanding the Basics of TPOs

11th March 2019

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If you have trees in your garden that need to be pruned, or maybe you worry about their health and would like to remove limbs or wish to cut them down altogether – STOP! First you must check whether they have a TPO on them.

Preservation for public enjoyment
Some trees have legal protection under a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to preserve them for public enjoyment, for aesthetic or environmental reasons. This protection can cover individual trees, groups of trees, areas and woodlands and can even cover in some cases hedges.

Protection for you
Do you know if a tree on your land, or on land adjacent to yours, is protected? Would you like to protect your trees from the impact of future plans by neighbours? Or would you like to look a bit further than your own backyard and protect those trees in your street or in local woodlands?

The best way to go about this is to contact the Local Planning Authority who can invoke a temporary TPO, which lasts for six months. They will then contact anyone they feel might be affected by the TPO to give them the chance to object during that time.

If you have trees on your land, then you are responsible for not only their wellbeing, but also any health and safety risks that they may pose to others, so how you look after these trees will be carefully monitored.

Working on a protected tree
There are several considerations which need to be taken into account when working on a TPO-protected tree, but the main things fall within the scope of permission, time and money.

All work on trees, even pruning, requires permission from the Local Planning Authority. This needs to be applied for eight weeks in advance of the work everywhere, but notice must be given six weeks in advance for trees within a conservation area. An additional TPO could be placed on the tree if local residents object or the request is turned down by the council.

However, the urgency of the case may speed up the permission time. If the tree is a health and safety risk, dying or dead, then permission time changes to a minimum of five days.

Be warned, significant fines can be imposed in a magistrates’ court and serious cases can be taken to the Crown Court for unauthorised work carried out on a protected tree, unless it is being undertaken by utility companies or in specific legal situations. If intervention is considered necessary before permission has been granted, take photos and records of all work done to protect yourself from prosecution and apply for retrospective permission.

To  discover more about your TPO tree rights and responsibilities, call us on 0208 292 8992. We’re always happy to pop round or to help with a little advice or assistance.

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