Tree Preservation Orders
The Council currently has over 800 TPO's throughout the District, covering individual trees, groups, woodlands and large areas. The Council typically serves around 40 TPO's per year and processes approximately 200 applications for tree works each year.
The Council routinely serves Tree Preservation Orders (TPO's) in accordance with government guidance and good practice. The Council has a duty to protect trees using specific powers to serve Tree Preservation Orders on appropriate trees. Generally trees to be included in a TPO must have amenity value to the community, although an order is not usually served unless it is in the public interest. i.e. there is some threat from development or other pressures. For an Order to be served the tree must not be a hazard and must have at least a reasonable life expectancy.
As with all trees, responsibility for condition and maintenance rests with the landowner but it is an offence to cut down, prune, lop, top, uproot or wilfully damage or destroy a protected tree without the prior written consent of the Council. There can be serious penalties on conviction for failure to obtain consent.
Anyone can apply for consent to carry out works to a protected tree and they do not have to have a legal interest in the land. This situation will arise when a landowner wants to obtain permission to cut the branches of a neighbouring tree, which overhangs their property.
An application for consent to carry out works to a TPO protected tree must:
- Be made in writing to the Local Authority
- State the reasons for making the application
- Identify the trees to which the application relates, by reference to a plan if necessary
- Specify the tree work operations for which consent is sought.
On receipt of an application the Local Authority has 8 weeks to make a decision. In dealing with the application the Authority may;
- Refuse consent
- Grant consent unconditionally
- Grant consent subject to conditions
- Grant partial consent and partial refusal.
If the Authority refuses consent, grants consent subject to conditions or fail to determine the application within the 8 week time frame the applicant can appeal to the Secretary of State.
Exemptions to making a tree works application
There are a number of exemptions from the normal requirement to obtain consent for cutting down or carrying out works to protected trees, however it is advisable to give the Authority 5 days notice before cutting down a tree which is dead, or dangerous. The onus is on the landowner to provide proof the tree was dead, or dangerous should the Authority question the reason for removal. Tree Officers of the Local Authority are happy to meet landowners on site to discuss problem trees and a photograph showing the condition of the tree(s) may be all that is needed to prove that a tree was dead, or dangerous otherwise should it be necessary.
If you are unsure whether your trees is protected or for further information on TPOs, contact the Council Tree Officer or download the leaflets on protected trees.
For the Digital Map of West Berkshire that demonstrates where TPO's are in effect, please click on the link.
THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (TREE PRESERVATION) (ENGLAND) REGULATIONS 2012
These Regulations contain powers that omit the content of all existing TPOs, other than the identification of trees. This content is replaced by the new TPO contained in the 2012 Regulations, with the effect that all TPOs, whenever made, shall be in the same form and subject to the same provisions.
The new TPO regulations come into force on the 6 April 2012 and in summary will:
Include a new much shorter, simpler form of TPO. This will be easier for the Council to administer and for the general public to understand;
Give all new TPOs immediate provisional effect;
Reduce the administrative burden of the Council when notifying people of the making of new TPOs by requiring the service of copies only on the owner and occupier of the land on which the trees are situated and anyone else entitled to cut the trees;
Qualify the scope of exempted works (particularly in respect of dead and dangerous trees) and clarify the requirement for prior notification as follows:
(a) in the case of works urgently necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm, as soon as practicable after the works become necessary; and
(b) in any other case at least five working days prior to the date on which the works are to be commenced
Introduce a default period of two years for consent of approved works;
Provide a common system for appeals and compensation claims arising out of the refusal of consent or imposition of conditions, based on the current provisions that apply only to TPOs made after 1999.
The above changes will enable a more accessible, transparent and user-friendly system.
Legislation continues to be required to protect trees and the consolidated and streamlined regulations will not change current levels of protection for trees, nor will they impose any new burdens. The new system will provide a unified, more user-friendly system for all existing and future TPOs.
The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 can be viewed at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/605/contents/made (this is an external website).
Tel:01635 519675 Ext: 2675