A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a written order made by the Council, which makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by an order, without this authority’s written consent (Town & Country Planning Act 1990). Any species, size or age of tree can be protected by a TPO as long as it meets the criteria set down in law. It does not apply to bushes, shrubs or hedgerows. In addition, you will also require this authority’s consent to carry out works to any tree within a Conservation Area, with a stem diameter over 75mm or trees subject to a Planning Condition.
When a TPO is served, the documents are served upon the owners/occupiers of the land on which the tree or trees are growing. Owners/occupiers of adjacent properties will also be notified of the new TPO. Once a TPO is served, the tree does not become the responsibility of the Council, this still remains the responsibility of the owner.
Application for works to a tree subject of a tree preservation order (TPO) or Conservation Area
An application can be made online using the 'TPO Application' link in Related Content section, this is the best way to make an application as you will receive a reference, updates and be able to view your application status online.
If work is carried out to a tree protected by a TPO, without written consent from this authority. Or to a tree within a Conservation Area, without notifying the authority, the Council may decide to prosecute those responsible. The Magistrates Court could impose a fine of up to £20,000. If the case is more severe and is dealt with by the Crown Court, the fine level is unlimited.
Works to Protected Trees
Owners of protected trees are not prevented from carrying out necessary works to their tree once it is protected, however, a tree works application will need to be submitted and consent granted by this authority. Applications can be also submitted by a neighbour of tree.
Once the application has been validated and acknowledgement letter will be sent out to the applicant. The Council's Arboricultural Officer will visit and assess your application. The Council has eight weeks in which to issue their decision to you from the date your application is validated.
Applications and supporting documents can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to: Customer Services, Rochford District Council, 3-15 South Street, Rochford, Essex SS4 1BW.
If the Arboricultural Officers decision is to refuse your application, there is a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which is not unduly complicated. Details will be in the decision notice.
Should the Council refuse an application for works, the owner may seek compensation for any loss or damage suffered as a direct result of that refusal being issued. This only applies for a period of 12 months from the date of the refusal.
There are exemptions to the need to obtain written consent for works to protected trees; these include dead or dangerous trees. If your tree surgeon has ascertained that your tree or part of it is dead or dangerous, he or you should give this authority at least five days notice before carrying out any works.
Trees in conservation Areas
There is a requirement to give the Council at least six weeks written notice before carrying out any works to trees that are over 75mm diameter measured 1.5m above ground level in a Conservation Area. The same exemptions apply to a Conservation Area that applies to TPOs.
A leaflet produced by Communities and Local Government 'Protected Trees - A Guide to Tree Preservation Procedures' is available from the Council Offices in Rochford and Rayleigh. The leaflet can also be downloaded for free, see the Related Content section.