Tree preservation orders – what are they & how to beat a tree preservation order.

A Tree Preservation Order is a law constituted by local councils to protect trees from being cut down, lopped, topped, uprooted, or cause any wilful damage to the trees. TPO’s require written consent from your local council for any tree related activities. You should also be aware the Hedges, shrubs or bushes aren’t typically covered by a TPO. Tree preservation orders only cover single trees to woodlands. However, If the hedges or are in a conservation area, then you will need permission from your local council.

Which Trees Are Protected By TPO’s

To clear any misconceptions, Tree Preservation Orders don’t protect specific tree species. Any tree or woodlands can have a tree preservation order to protect trees that serve contribution to the local environment and carry amenity value. There are several scenarios where a tree can gain legal protection.

  1. Individual TPO: Applied to a single tree.
  2. Group TPO: Encompasses a cluster of individual trees, collectively forming a feature of amenity value.
  3. Area TPO: Although less common now, it once covered all trees within a defined area at the time of the order’s creation.
  4. Woodland TPO: Protects all trees within a woodland area, regardless of age.
  5. Conservation areas: This is when areas are protected that have special architectural or historic interest.

Before undertaking any tree related activities, you should always check to see if your land or property is within a conservation area or has an existing TPO. You can find this on your local council website.

Getting Permission for TPO-Protected Trees

When considering work on a tree protected by a TPO, several key factors come into play:

  1. Advanced Notice: For Local Councils, You must give at least 5 working days’ notice before any works are carried out.
  2. Conservation Area Trees: Trees within a conservation area, with a stem diameter of at least 75mm measured 1.5m above the ground, require a notice of works six weeks before commencement.
  3. Urgent Pruning: If the trees are dead, diseased, or destroyed and pose immediate risk. Then you should contact your local council immediately.  It would also be helpful to your case to submit a report from a tree surgeon or surveyor to support your application.

Gaining permission for the removal of Tree Preservation is a rarity in most cases. But if you submit a strong case, with the help of a profession arborist or surveyor then you have a good chance of the TPO being lifted.

TPO’s and Planning Permission

Tree Preservation Orders are one of the deciding factors of the approval of planning permissions. This is because establishing new TPO’s on already approved developments becomes challenging.

Tree Preservation Order Stockton-on-Tees

Carrying out works on Trees or woodlands protected by TPO as outlined in the town and country planning act 1990, will result in legal fines. These fines will be handed out to the individuals performing the work and the landowners.

  • Deliberate destruction of a protected tree, or damage likely to destroy it, may lead to fines of up to £20,000 if convicted in a magistrates’ court. The court factors in any financial gains from the offense when determining the fine.
  • Other offenses, such as unauthorized work on a TPO-protected tree, can incur fines of up to £2,500.
  • In serious cases, individuals may face trial in the Crown Court, with potential unlimited fines.

You should also be aware that you will need to replace and replant any illegally removed protected tree, with a new tree.


Always approach tree-related activities with care, adhering to the law and seeking professional guidance from our tree removal service when needed.