Tree protection

Permission to work on a protected tree

Permission is always needed to carry out work to a protected tree except when the following applies

  • when cutting down trees in accordance with one of the Forestry Commission's grant schemes, or where the Commission has granted a felling licence;
  • when cutting down or cutting back a tree that is dead or has become dangerous;
  • in line with an obligation under another Act of Parliament;
  • at the request of certain organisations specified in the order;
  • where a tree is directly in the way of development that is about to start and for which detailed planning permission has been granted;
  • in a commercial orchard where pruning fruit trees is needed in accordance with good horticultural practice; or
  • to prevent or abate a legal nuisance (you may find it useful to check first with a solicitor)

We can investigate and prosecute anyone who has carried out work without prior written consent. This would lead to an appearance in a Magistrates Court and fines for offences can be as much as £20,000.  Penalties in Crown Courts are unlimited, but can be based on the profit made.

If a tree is removed without consent then a replacement must be planted, unless we dispense with the requirement. If no planting is carried out, then we can enforce it.

Apply for permission

To make an application to prune or fell a protected tree, you need to complete a  tree work application form giving the following information:

  • Sketch Plan - A sketch plan showing the location of all trees.
  • For all trees clear identification of the trees concerned.
  • A full and clear specification of the works to be carried out in accordance with the current industry standard
  • For works to trees protected by a TPO you will need to state the reasons for the proposed works and provide evidence in support of the stated reasons in particular: if your reasons relate to the condition of the tree(s) - written evidence from an appropriate expert, if you are alleging subsidence damage - a report by an appropriate engineer or surveyor and one from an arboriculturist. In respect of other structural damage - written technical evidence will all need to be provided and attached with the application.

Please read the planning guidance notes before making your application.

Make an application to carry out work to protected trees

What happens if an application is refused

If an application to carry out work on a protected tree is refused, or you object to the conditions imposed by us, then you can appeal to the Secretary of State in writing within 28 days of receiving the decision.

Appeals are normally decided on the basis of written statements, followed by a site visit. Both you and the council have the right, instead, to a public local inquiry or hearing.  The Secretary of State may allow or dismiss the appeal, or vary the original decision.