Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are made and administered by the local authority under the Town and Country Planning Acts. They make it an offence to cut down, prune or otherwise damage any tree so protected. A TPO may cover an individual tree, a group of trees or even a whole woodland and may include trees of any size, age or species.
There are numerous TPOs throughout the County with some dating back to the early 1950’s. Owners should be aware of the existence of TPOs as they are a legal charge on the land to which they apply. If you are planning to carry out any work to trees on your property and you are not certain if there is a TPO or other type of statutory protection then you are advised to contact Planning Services – see below for contact details. If there is an Order in place then you will need to obtain the necessary Consent from the Council to carry out the works. There is no charge but you are required to submit your Application on a simple form. These are available from the Planning Department or are available to download from the Denbighshire website. Consent is not normally withheld for works that are considered to be reasonable in the context of the tree’s location or condition.
There are certain exemptions from the requirement to obtain approval in advance of carrying out tree works which include provision for making safe diseased and dangerous trees. It is, however, advisable to contact the Council before carrying out such work and it remains the owner’s responsibility to be able to prove that such works were essential.
The Council can make new TPOs if it is deemed that the tree or trees are under some sort of threat and that they contribute significantly to the amenity of a local area. The trees must also be assessed to be in a good and healthy condition.
Please be aware that the existence of a TPO does not mean that the Council now owns or controls the tree nor does it mean that the Council is in any way responsible for the cost of maintenance – this remains solely with the owner of the tree.
Trees within Conservation Areas are subject to a requirement to give six weeks written notice to fell or carry out any works to the trees. There is a similar Notification procedure and forms are available as for TPO applications.
Failure to comply with these requirements of both TPO and Conservation Area legislation can result in prosecution and fines of up to £20,000 per tree.
Other forms of protection to trees may be through the existence of a Condition of a Planning Consent which requires that no trees on a particular site may be felled or pruned without the prior approval of the Local Planning Authority. Elsewhere the Felling Regulations of the Forestry Act make it an offence to fell live trees without a Felling Licence. These are issued by the Forestry Commission. Full details are on their website.