WHAT IS A TREE PRESERVATION ORDER?
TPO means 'Tree Preservation Order'. A TPO is an order which protects specific trees, or areas, from felling, lopping, topping, uprooting or any other damage or destruction and can be applied to several trees, a larger group of trees or even woods and forests. In the majority of cases, a TPO is initiated by a local planning authority or local council to protect these trees. They are most commonly found in urban or semi-urban environments and for trees with high amenity or nature conservation interest.
The Tree Officer at your local council will be able to tell you if a particular tree has a TPO already. A tree with a TPO placed on it, requires written permission from the council before any work can be done that might affect it in any way. Without this permission, the people concerned (including the landowner) may be prosecuted.
A TPO can be placed on any tree, including trees in hedgerows, but not hedgerows themselves. However, making a TPO is a ‘discretionary power’, which means the council does not necessarily have to be the ones that initiate it but once one has been made, they have a duty to enforce it.
Having said this, TPOs do not offer absolute protection for trees. Applications can be made to remove a tree, even with an order, for a variety of different reasons. They can be terminated or modified and there are a range of exemptions: For instance, trees on land controlled by local authorities, or the Crown are not normally granted TPOs. Works on dying, dead, dangerous and nuisance trees are excluded. Works approved by the Forestry Commission under a felling licence are also allowed. Acts of Parliament and the granting of detailed planning permission also usually override an existing TPO.