A tree preservation order (referred to as a ‘TPO’) is an order made by a local planning authority (‘LPA’) in respect of trees or woodlands and can be on any tree. Trees in conservation areas may be the subject of a TPO and subject to the normal TPO controls. But the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 also makes special provision for trees in conservation areas which are not the subject of a TPO. Anyone proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a conservation area is required to give the LPA six weeks’ prior notice (a ‘section 211 notice’). The purpose of this requirement is to give the LPA an opportunity to consider whether a TPO should be made in respect of the tree.
Conservation areas are areas of special architectural or historical interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. They are designated by LPAs and are often, though not always, centred around listed buildings. Other buildings and landscape features, including trees, may also contribute to the special character of a conservation area. Trees that are exempt from TPOs are those that are dead, dying, diseased or dangerous and fruit trees grown for the commercial production of fruit. A 5-day notice may still apply (checking with planning is essential). TPOs prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, even pruning, wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees without consent. Currently the maximum penalty for carrying out works to TPO trees without consent is £20,000. Trees in conservation areas may also be protected even if they are not covered by a tree preservation order. You must give the council six weeks’ notice of any works that you intend to carry out on such trees.