Tree Preservation Orders

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The District Council has duties and responsibilities under the Town and Country Planning Act, Government Regulations and Circulars to protect trees within its administrative area in the interest of amenity. These duties and responsibilities extend to making Tree Preservation Orders (which in general makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, willfully damage or destroy a tree without the District Council’s written permission), and to special provisions for trees within Conservation Areas.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

The maximum fine for the willful destruction of a TPO or Conservation Area tree is £20,000 per tree. Willful damage carries the maximum fine of £2,000 per tree.

Many trees throughout the district are protected through individual Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs).

If you have a tree or group of trees protected by a tree preservation order, or you are within a conservation area and you wish to carry out any form of tree work, you must seek permission from the Council before starting.

The Council has up to eight weeks to determine applications for works to TPO trees. It has six weeks to determine a Conservation Area notification.

The Council can refuse permission for TPO works but in the case of Conservation Area Trees, it can only refuse if it serves a TPO to protect the affected trees. There is a right of appeal for TPO treeworks application refusals. Appeals must be made to the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days of the Council’s refusal decision. Appeal application forms can be found at the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

Please use the links below if you require and application form and/or guidance notes:

Finding out about protected trees

If a TPO has been applied to a tree on a property, the owner will have been informed at the time the order was made. If the purchase of a property is made after the order came into force, the order should be revealed on the property search at the time of purchase.

You can check the status of trees on a mapping system on our Local Information Service using the Map Layers and selecting Tree Preservation Orders under Planning Constraints. Please note the accuracy of the mapped tree positions cannot be guaranteed, so if in doubt contact the Arboricultural officer on 01727 866100 or email treesandwoodlands@stalbans.gov.uk.

If you know the TPO number, you can also view the TPO documents by reference number.

There is a register of works to protected trees published within the Council’s weekly register of Applications, decisions and appeals.

Asking for a tree to be protected

If an important tree is believed to be under threat - from neglect or because of development nearby, for instance - a request can be made to the tree protection officer for a preservation order to be placed on the tree(s).

The Arboricultural officer can be contacted on 01727 866100 or email treesandwoodlands@stalbans.gov.uk.

Please provide the following information: 

  • the address where the tree is to be found;
  • the exact location of the tree within the property;
  • any information about the type/size of the tree;
  • the reason(s) why the tree is believed to be at risk.

The Arboricultural officer will carry out a tree survey and inspection. This will include a life expectancy and amenity evaluation, placing a value on the tree as an environmental asset. There is no charge for this.

How is a TPO made?

After the tree has been inspected, the Council will decide if a preservation order should be made. 

If an order is made, notices are served on the owner of the land and the adjoining landowners if tree canopies overhang across their boundary.

Objecting to a TPO

If the order relates to a tree on your property, an objection must be made within 28 days of receipt. If this happens, the proposed order and objection are reported to the relevant area planning committee, which you can attend. The Planning Committee will then consider your objections before deciding whether or not to confirm the TPO.

If the Committee decides to approve the order, there is no right to further appeal to the Council. Aggrieved parties can make an application to the High Court if they believe:

  • the TPO is not within the powers of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990;
  • the requirements of the 1990 Act or Town and Country (Trees) Planning Regulations 1999 have not been complied with in relation to the Order.

For a full explanation of your rights in such cases please contact the Arboricultural officer on 01727 866100 or email: treesandwoodlands@stalbans.gov.uk.

Click here for information on Council tree maintenance.

For a PDF version of this web page, see download below. 

Date of last review: 15 August 2017