Trees can be protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) and they are also protected by being situated within a Conservation Area. The information below is intended to help you understand the procedures associated with protected trees.
Tree Preservation Orders
TPOs are made by a local authority to protect important trees that significantly contribute to the amenity of an area. TPOs control what work can be carried out to trees and you must get consent from the local authority before carrying out any work to a tree protected by a TPO, including minor pruning. It is an offence to carry out work to a protected tree without permission.
Further information can be found in Protected Trees: a Guide to Tree Preservation Procedures.
You can find out if a tree is protected with a TPO by using the online mapping system on the Council’s website.
Requesting a TPO is made to protect a tree
You can ask for a tree to be protected with a TPO if you think it is under threat from work likely to result in its destruction. Please contact the tree officer directly if you think it is urgent. Otherwise write to or email Rother Council giving details of the location of the tree and why you think it should be protected.
The Tree Officer will assess the tree to see if it is a good enough specimen for it to be protected with a TPO for instance it should be a sound, healthy tree which can be seen from a public place.
How do I get permission for work to a tree protected by a TPO
If you wish to carry out work to a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order, you must apply to Rother Council for consent. You must make it clear exactly which trees you wish to carry out work to and this will usually require a sketch plan. You must also describe exactly what work you wish to carry out and the reasons why you wish to carry out the work. Supporting documentation related to the reasons for the work and photographs will help with your application. Tree works application forms must be used to submit your application and guidance notes on making an application will help you fill in the forms.
Receipt of your tree works application will be confirmed in writing the and the application should be dealt with in 8 weeks.
Refusal of tree work applications
If your application is refused or part refused you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate (see address below) within 28 days of receiving the decision.
The Planning Inspectorate
The Environment Team
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Rights to claim compensation
It is sometimes possible to make a claim for compensation if you are refused permission to carry out work to a protected tree, or if conditions are attached to the permission. The details of compensation arrangements are complex and vary depending on the date on which the TPO was made. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice before making a claim for compensation.
Some of the main points relating to TPOs made after 2 August 1999 are:
- no claim can be made if the loss or damage suffered amounts to less than £500
- no compensation is payable for loss of development value or other diminution in the value of land
- no compensation is payable for loss or damage which, bearing in mind the reasons given for the application for consent (and any documents submitted in support of those reasons), was not reasonably foreseeable when the application was decided
- no compensation is payable to a person for loss or damage which was (i) reasonably foreseeable by that person, and (ii) attributable to that person’s failure to take reasonable steps to avert the loss or damage or mitigate its extent
- no compensation is payable for the costs incurred in bringing an appeal to the Secretary of State against the council’s decision to refuse consent or grant it subject to conditions
If you wish to make a claim for compensation you should write to us within 12 months of the council’s decision or within 12 months of the Secretary of State’s decision if you appealed.
Trees in Conservation Areas
A Conservation Area is an area designated, because of its special character, and architectural or historical importance. Within a Conservation Area, all trees have a level of protection similar to trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order and there are penalties for removing trees without notifying the Council. Further information on the protection of trees in Conservation Areas can be found in Protected Trees: a Guide to Tree Preservation Procedures.
You can check to see if your tree is in a Conservation Area by looking at online mapping.
What to do if you want to work on a tree in a Conservation Area
Before working on a tree in a Conservation Area you must give Rother District Council six weeks notice in writing of your intention to carry out work. The Tree Works form can be used to submit this notification. You should include details of the exact location of the tree, usually indicated on a plan, along with details of the species and specify exactly what work you wish to do. Including photographs of the tree with the notification will help this process. The following guidance note will help you fill out the form.
View details of Tree work applications on-line
The progress of an application can be followed online. It is also possible to comment on an application online or by writing to the Tree Officer as long as this is before the consultation date.
What happens if I carry out work on a protected tree without permission?
If you deliberately destroy a protected tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, this is regarded as a criminal offence and you could be fined up to £20,000 if convicted in a Magistrate’s Court. For other offences you can be fined up to £2,500. Furthermore, you will normally have to plant a new tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed. This applies to both trees protected with a TPO and in a Conservation Area.
If you cut down or destroy a protected tree you will have to plant a new tree if:
- You did so in breach of a Tree Preservation Order or without notifying your intention in a Conservation Area
- You did so because the tree was dead, dying or dangerous (except if the tree was in a woodland)
- You obtained permission but a condition requiring a new tree to be planted was attached to the permission
- In most cases where the Forestry Commission grants a felling licence
Choosing a tree surgeon
Tree work should only be undertaken by well trained, competent tree surgeons that hold adequate insurance. Rother Council does not recommend individual tree surgeons but guidance is available on choosing an arborist or choose from a list of tree work contractors and consultants approved by the Arboricultural Association.
How else might a tree be protected?
In addition to Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas there are various other factors which may constrain work to trees. These include:
- felling which involves more than 5m³ of timber, or more than 2m³ if sold, may require a felling licence from the Forestry Commission;
- if a tree contains a protected habitat, work may have to be delayed or may require a licence from Natural England. Wildlife habitats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. This includes bat roosts and the nests of wild birds;
- trees may sometimes be protected by virtue of conditions attached to planning permission;
- restrictive covenants attached to the deeds for a property may occasionally restrict what work can be undertaken to trees.