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Your Guide To: Trees And The Law

The sun is shining, trees are flourishing, and the blossom is at its most glorious. It is usually about this time that you realise just how much light you lose from the oak, sycamore or apple tree in your garden. Trees are beautiful things, crucial for our environment and undeniably a fantastic feature for any garden. However, if your tree blocks your light, is at risk of damaging your property or a neighbour’s, or is diseased, you may want to have it removed.

Cutting trees down or back is a specialist job – it is important that you consult a tree surgeon before you make any major decisions.

Aside from the risks of undertaking tree work yourself, some trees are protected by government legislation. Working on a tree that is in a Conservation Area or protected by a Tree Preservation Order, Planning Conditions, Felling Licences or Restrictive Covenants without permission can lead to enforcement action. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with the flood of acronyms and what they mean. If you don’t know your TPOs from your CAs and LPAs, don’t worry! In this series, we talk through the restrictions placed upon trees and what it means for you.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

Tree Preservation Orders are overseen by the Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and are designed to protect trees which are considered to be of significance to the local area. A TPO can apply to a single tree, or all trees in a specified area. It is against the law to top, lop, uproot, cut down, wilfully damage or destroy a tree that has a TPO unless you have permission from the LPA. If you are found guilty of violating a TPO, you could be tried in Crown Court and could incur a fine or criminal record. If a tree is subject to a TPO, you can apply to your Local Planning Authority or through the Planning Portal.

Conservation Areas (CAs)

If a tree in a conservation area is covered by a TPO, then it will be subject to the normal TPO restrictions and permission will need to be sought to undertake any work on it. However, if a tree is in a conservation area but is not protected by a TPO, it is necessary that you give at least 6 weeks’ written notice to your LPA via email, letter or designated section 211 notice form, outlining the proposed work. The section 211 notice will give the LPA the opportunity to protect a tree in a conservation area with a TPO before work is done.

You only need to make a section 211 notice on mature trees; trees less than 7.5 centimetres in diameter and less than 1.5 metres from the ground can be worked on without notice.

If you are unsure about whether you can work on a tree, consult a tree surgeon; arboriculture is a craft and you could fall foul of the law, as well as put yourself at risk if you fail to get the work done properly, safely, and in accordance with legislation.

For more guidance, or to find a tree specialist you can trust, follow Trust A Trader on Facebook or Twitter.

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