Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are issued by local authorities to protect the countryside. They extend over individual trees of high amenity value or entire woodlands.
Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, local planning authorities create Tree Preservation Orders. Whether they cover individual trees, groups of trees or woodlands, TPOs protect the trees that they cover from removal, improper pruning or any sort of action against them. Any action that would result in significant loss of amenity provided by the trees is considered to be against the law. Authorities usually exercise their judgement when they make TPO because ‘amenity’ is not defined in the law. The general purpose of a TPO is to protect woodlands and specific trees the removal of which will impact the community and the environment in a notable negative way. Before the local authority comes up with a TPO, they first ensure the public will benefit from the presence of trees/woodlands in question.
Once a TPO is out, there it is possible to apply for the removal/pruning of protected trees.
Applying for doing physical work on a protected tree
Before you do any sort of work on protected trees, you must obtain permission from the local authority. It takes about 8 weeks from the date you submit the form called ‘Formal application to carry out works to protect trees. You will have to include a detailed description of the proposed work, in addition to a map of the trees. It is important to mention that arboricultural consultants can act as agents in applying to performing a tree survey. They can also advise you on the likely works that will be allowed.
If the local authority decides not to grant permission for works, then you can take your appeal to the Secretary of state. It is important to understand that you need to have very reasonable grounds for appeal and you will most likely require agents to act on your behalf. Typically, arboricultural consultants will be of great help in the matter. They can launch a formal appeal, to give you the best chances of success. The allowed period for appeal is 28 days.
In regards to the provisional TPO, local authorities need to consider all representations made about it. What this means is that you will have some time to place some arguments against the TPO, before it comes to pass. Once again, you can work with arboricultural consultants to advise you. They know just what procedures the local authority needs to follow and the guidelines laid down by the higher authorities for confirming and revoking a TPO. In other words, the consultancy will know whether the local planning authority has not followed the exact procedures and guidelines, and they will then represent you with the objection.
Challenging a TPO at the high court
When a TPO is confirmed, there is no longer the option to appeal to the Secretary of State. Yet, there is a chance to apply to the High Court to quash the order. Such actions typically call the legality of the order into question.