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Tree Preservation Orders

Introduction

Trees are an important part of our heritage and environment. There are many benefits of trees and Dudley Council has the power to make Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) to control the work which is undertaken to trees that make an important contribution to the  local area. Additionally, trees which fall within Conservation Areas have a level of protection similar to trees which are covered by a TPO.

Please see Trees in Conservation Areas for further information.

In some circumstances it may also be necessary to obtain a felling licence from the Forestry Commission before felling trees.

This page aims to answer some common questions about Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas. If you plan to fell trees that are not in a residential garden you should also refer to the Forestry Commission website for information on Felling Licences.

If you are aware of trees in danger of being destroyed, which you feel are worth protecting, you can ask the Authority to consider making an Order. Copies of all existing orders can be inspected at the Planning Services Reception.

Online Tree Preservation Order Applications

Planning and Building Control facility enables you to search for Tree Preservation Order Applications. You can additionally access Weekly Planning Lists of decisions made with respect to applications.

Tree Preservation Orders Committee

The Tree Preservation Orders Committee consider applications relating to protected trees and presentations for the modification of, and objections to, Tree Preservation Orders and the determination and revocation of such Orders.  

To access information relating to membership of the committee, agendas, minutes and reports, please see What types of tree can be covered by a TPO? Tree Preservation Orders Committee 

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority, such as Dudley Council, which in general makes it an offence to cut down, lop, top, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without first getting permission from the Local Planning Authority. Tree Preservation Orders are usually made to protect trees which make a significant contribution to the amenity of an area. They may particularly be made when it is felt that a tree may be under threat.

All types of trees, including hedgerow trees, may be the subject of a TPO. A TPO can not protect hedges, bushes or shrubs.

How can I find out if a tree has a TPO?

You will need to write or email to the Council’s Development Control section, with details of the address, location and species of the tree. They will be able to tell you if the tree is protected. When you are buying a property the presence of a TPO should be revealed by the search of the local land charges register.

Who is responsible for maintaining a tree with a TPO?

The owner of the tree is responsible for maintenance of a protected tree, for its condition and for any damage which it causes. However, they will need to obtain permission from Dudley Council before carrying out most types of work. Tree work is a dangerous and highly skilled operation and tree’s are complex structures which are easily damaged by poor or ill advised work. You are strongly advised to engage a professional tree surgeon or arborist to advise you and undertake any work needed.

Can you recommend a good tree surgeon?

Dudley MBC is unable to recommend any particular tree surgeon or arborist but we do provide some. If I am refused permission can I appeal? 

How do I get permission to work on a tree covered by a TPO?

If you wish to carry out work to a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order you must apply in writing to Directorate of the Urban Environment using the contact details below.

You must make it clear exactly which tree or trees you wish to prune, which will usually require a sketch plan. You must also indicate exactly what sort of work you wish to carry out and the reasons why you wish to carry out the work. If you have supporting documentation relating to these reasons you should submit this as well.

An Application Form is available for download from this page. It is recommended that this is used as it will help to ensure that sufficient information is provided for your application to be processed. It is often helpful if you ask your tree surgeon to make the application on your behalf. The Council will write to confirm the receipt of your application and will then consider it and let you know their decision within eight weeks.

Yes. If your application is refused, or if you do not receive a decision within eight weeks, you can appeal to the Government Office of the West Midlands, who will consider your appeal on behalf of the Secretary of State. Details of how to appeal will be sent to you along with the decision notice. There is more information on making an appeal available from the Further information section of this page. You may also appeal if the Council grants permission but attaches conditions to it. During the appeal process you will have an opportunity to put your case to an independent inspector who will prepare a detailed report for consideration by the Secretary of State.

Can I get compensation if my application is refused, or if conditions are attached?

It is sometimes possible to make a claim for compensation if you are refused permission to carry out work to a protected tree, or if conditions are attached to the permission. The details of compensation arrangements are complex and vary depending on the date on which the TPO was made. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice before making a claim for compensation.

Some of the main points relating to TPOs made after 2 August 1999 are:

  • no claim can be made if the loss or damage suffered amounts to less than £500

  • no compensation is payable for loss of development value or other diminution in the value of land

  • no compensation is payable for loss or damage which, bearing in mind the reasons given for the application for consent (and any documents submitted in support of those reasons), was not reasonably foreseeable when the application was decided

  • no compensation is payable to a person for loss or damage which was (i) reasonably foreseeable by that person, and (ii) attributable to that person’s failure to take reasonable steps to avert the loss or damage or mitigate its extent

  • no compensation is payable for the costs incurred in bringing an appeal to the Secretary of State against the council’s decision to refuse consent or grant it subject to conditions

If you wish to make a claim for compensation you should write to the Council within 12 months of the council’s decision, or within 12 months of the Secretary of State's decision if you appealed.

Will I be told if a TPO is made on a tree on my property?

Yes. When the council makes a TPO it will send copies to the owner of the property and any adjoining properties which are affected.

Does a new TPO take effect immediately?

The council may include a clause in a new order, known as a ‘section 201 direction’, the effect of which is to make the order take immediate effect. Dudley MBC almost invariably includes a section 201 direction in new TPOs.

A new TPO must be confirmed within 6 months of being made, otherwise it will lapse. Owners of affected properties will be notified when the TPO is confirmed.

How can I object to, or express support for, a new TPO?

To object to a new TPO, or to express your support for it, write to the Council within the time allowed, usually 28 days, after the order has been made. The Council will consider your comments when deciding whether or not to confirm the TPO. 

When can I prune a protected tree without permission?

There are a few circumstances in which you can carry out work to a protected tree without gaining permission first. These include:

  • If the tree is dead, dying or dangerous. The danger must be present and the onus will be on you to prove this if there are questions. It is good practice to let the Council know that you propose to carry out work on this basis at least 5 days in advance so that they can agree with you which trees are dead or dangerous. Removal of dead wood from an otherwise healthy tree is considered to be covered by this exemption.

  • If you are obliged to carry out work by an Act of Parliament. Most commonly, this applies to trees that overhang a public road where you have an obligation to maintain reasonable clearance above the road. This usually means 2.5m above a footway or 5.5m above a vehicular carriageway.

  • Where the work is absolutely necessary in order to implement a detailed planning permission. Note that this does not apply to outline planning permission or to permitted development rights.

  • If the tree is a fruit tree and you prune it in accordance with good horticultural practice, or if the tree is a fruit tree situated in a commercial orchard.

  • If the work is to be carried in accordance with a Forestry Commission grant scheme or if a felling licence has been granted by the Forestry Commission.

Might I have to plant a replacement tree?

If you cut down or destroy a protected tree you will have to plant a new tree if:

  • You did so in breach of a TPO or without notifying your intention in a Conservation Area

  • You did so because the tree was dead, dying or dangerous (except if the tree was in a woodland)

  • You obtained permission but a condition requiring a new tree to be planted was attached to the permission

  • In most cases where the Forestry Commission grants a felling licence

What happens if I carry out work on a protected tree without permission?

If you deliberately destroy a protected tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £20,000 if convicted in a magistrates court. For other offences you can be fined up to £2,500. Furthermore, you will normally have to plant a new tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.

How else might a tree be protected?

In addition to Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas there are various other factors which may constrain work to trees. These include:

  • Felling which involves more than 5m³ of timber, or more than 2m³ if sold, may require a felling licence from the Forestry Commission

  • Many wildlife habitats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. This includes bats’ roosts and the nests of wild birds. If a tree contains a protected habitat work may have to be delayed or may require a licence from English Nature.

  • Trees may sometimes be protected by virtue of conditions attached to planning permission

  • Occasionally, restrictive covenants attached to the deeds for a property may restrict what work can be undertaken to trees.

Application Form

An application form that you can use to apply for permission to carry out work to protected trees is available from the link at the bottom of the page. This includes full guidance notes to help you fill it in.

Legislation

  • Town and Country Planning Act 1990

  • Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999

Contact Details

  • Name Planning Help Desk
  • Address Planning and Environmental Health, Directorate of the Urban Environment, 4 Ednam Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 1HL
  • Telephone 01384 814136