Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas
Tree Preservation Orders and applications
Tree Preservation Orders can be placed on trees by the local authority to protect them for public enjoyment and amenity. TPOs can be placed on individual trees, groups, areas or woodlands. When a new TPO is made, owners and others are given the opportunity to object to the designation.
It is against the law to wilfully cut down, lop, top, destroy or damage a tree with a TPO. Offences can be punishable by a fine of up to £20000 on conviction in a magistrates’ court. In severe cases the Crown Court can impose an unlimited fine.
This does not mean that you cannot carry out work to a tree with a TPO, but you must obtain consent from the City Council first. The application process takes approximately eight weeks.
All TPO trees in Worcester are currently being checked and we will be updating our records before making them available online. In the meantime, to check if a tree is covered by a TPO, please complete our enquiry form. We will aim to reply within 3-5 working days.
Please be aware if you purchase a property or land with a TPO(s), it is your responsibility as the land owner to maintain the health and safety of your tree/s at your own expense.
Application forms are available for works to trees with Tree Preservation Orders and there is no fee. Applications can be submitted on the Planning Portal, which is the recommended channel for submission.
Alternatively they can be sent to:
Worcester City Council
Exceptions to the application process for TPO trees
Exceptions to the application process include certain work:
- on dead trees and branches;
- on dangerous trees and branches;
- to comply with an Act of Parliament;
- to prevent or abate a nuisance;
- necessary to implement a planning permission;
- on fruit trees;
- by or for statutory undertakers;
- for highway operations;
- by the Environment Agency and drainage bodies; and
- for national security purposes.
Householders will most often have to deal with dead or dangerous trees and branches. These cases are generally exempt from the need to make an application, but the City Council must be notified either beforehand or afterwards, depending on the urgency of the work, and where trees are felled they will need to be replaced.
Dead trees and branches
Unless work is urgently necessary because there is an immediate risk of serious harm, 5 working days prior written notice must be given to the authority before cutting down or carrying out other work on a dead tree. The authority’s consent for such work is not required.
The exceptions allow removal of dead branches from a living tree without prior notice or consent.
Where a dead tree not covered by the woodland classification is removed, the landowner has a duty to plant a replacement tree.
Dangerous trees and branches
Where a tree presents an immediate risk of serious harm and work is urgently needed to remove that risk, tree owners or their agents must give written notice to the authority as soon as practicable after that work becomes necessary. Work should only be carried out to the extent that it is necessary to remove the risk.
Where a tree is not covered by the woodland classification and is cut down because there is an urgent necessity to remove an immediate risk of serious harm, the landowner has a duty to plant a replacement tree of an appropriate size and species.
Trees in conservation areas
The consent process for work to trees in conservation areas is different to that for TPO trees, although the application form is the same. Six weeks’ notice should be given to the City Council through a ‘Section 211 Notice’. The Council can then determine whether a TPO should be made to protect the tree, or whether the work should be allowed. Only trees with a trunk of 75mm or more in diameter at a height of 1.5 m from the ground are protected in this way.
Exceptions to the application process for trees in conservation areas
Dead or dangerous trees
Unless there is an immediate risk of serious harm, anyone proposing to carry out work on a tree in a conservation area on the grounds that it is dead must give the authority 5 days notice before carrying out the proposed work.
Where such a tree requires urgent work to remove an immediate risk of serious harm, written notice is required as soon as practicable after the work becomes necessary.
In both cases there will be a duty on the landowner to plant a replacement tree.
For further information on works to trees including dangerous trees, overhanging branches, falling leaves and debris and tree roots and subsidence please read our guidance leaflet Information on Trees