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Planning and trees and hedges

Protected trees

Many trees in the district are protected either because they are subject to a tree preservation order (TPO) or because they are in a conservation area. You generally need our consent to carry out work on them.

Find out if a tree is protected

Conservation area

You can check whether or not a tree(s) is in a conservation area: map showing conservation areas in our district

You can also contact us.

Tree preservation order

If you want to know whether or not a tree is protected by a tree preservation order please contact us.

If you are purchasing land or property, make sure you search the local land charges register which should reveal the existence of a TPO, or whether your property is in a conservation area. Make sure your solicitor tells you if any trees are protected.

Carrying out works on trees

If you are unsure whether works can be carried out without our permission, you must contact us. 

In a few circumstances permission is not needed. These include:

  • when trees are cut down in connection with a Forestry Commission grant scheme, or where the Commission has granted a felling licence
  • cutting down or pruning a tree which presents an imminent and serious safety risk. You must give us at least five days written notice (by post or email) of the proposed work as soon as practicable after the work becomes necessary. You must be able to show proof that, on the balance of probabilities, the tree was dead or dangerous
  • cutting down a dead tree. You must give us at least five working days written notice (by post or email) of the proposed work; and include photographic evidence of the tree(s) in question
  • cutting down or pruning a tree that has been approved as part of a detailed planning permission
  • cutting down or pruning a tree to prevent or control a legal nuisance - You must give us at least five days written notice (by post or email) of the proposed works, including photos, a site plan and specification of work 
  • cutting down or pruning a tree in line with a statutory obligation under an Act of Parliament
  • removing dead branches from a living tree.

Where you are required to tell us about proposed work, we recommend you get professional advice from a qualified tree surgeon before contacting us.

You may need to plant replacement trees. If you are in any doubt about your obligations, please check with us.

Making an application for works to trees protected by a tree preservation order (TPO)

You can apply for planning permission to carry out work on a protected tree(s):

Online through the Planning Portal

On paper: Application for tree work form (PDF/59KB/1page)

Please make sure you send us all the relevant information. Tree work application guidance notes

We strongly recommend that you get advice from a tree surgeon who can provide you with a professional specification of the works needed. The Arboricultural Association website has a list of approved contractors for tree works.

Applications take up to 8 weeks to be processed.

Making a notification for works to trees in conservation areas

In general, if the diameter of a tree’s trunk is greater than 7.5cm when measured at 1.5m above the ground, you will need to complete a tree work application in order to carry out any work on it.

If a tree in a conservation area is already protected by a tree preservation order, normal tree preservation order procedures apply.

If it is not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, you must submit a tree works notification through:

 The Planning Portal

Or on paper: Notification for tree work form (PDF/59KB/1 page).

Please notify us by letter or email at least six weeks before the work starts. This gives us an opportunity to consider protecting the tree with a Tree Preservation Order.

Please read our to make sure you send all the relevant information: Tree work notification guidance notes.

Appealing a tree decision

If your application to carry out work on a protected tree is refused, or you object to the conditions we impose, you can make an appeal in writing within 28 days of receiving the decision. 

Fines for carrying out work without permission

It is a criminal offence to deliberately destroy a tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it. You could be fined up to £20,000 if found guilty. The Crown Court will consider any financial gain you may have made from the offence, when deciding the fine, which could be unlimited.

For other offences you could be fined up to £2,500.

You will normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.

Countryside hedgerows

Countryside hedgerows are protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997.

Check if a hedgerow is protected

A countryside hedgerow is protected if it meets the following criteria for: Length, location and importance.

Length

A hedgerow is a boundary line of bushes which can include trees and is protected if it is:

  • more than 20m long with gaps of 20m or less in its length
  • less than 20m long, but meets another hedge at each end
  • any stretch within the above

Location

A hedgerow is protected if it is on or next to:

  • land used for agriculture or forestry
  • land used for breeding or keeping horses, ponies or donkeys
  • common land
  • a village green
  • a site of special scientific interest
  • a protected European site such as a special area of conservation or special protection area
  • a national nature reserve
  • a local nature reserve
  • Crown land (land belonging to Her Majesty)

Protection does not apply to hedgerows in or marking the boundary of private gardens.

‘Importance’

A hedgerow is important (and therefore protected) if it’s at least 30 years old and meets at least one of these criteria:

  • marks all or part of a parish boundary that existed before 1850
  • contains an archaeological feature such as a scheduled monument
  • is completely or partly in or next to an archaeological site listed on a Historic Environment Record (formerly a Sites and Monuments Record)
  • marks the boundary of an estate or manor or looks to be related to any building or other feature that is part of the estate or manor that existed before 1600
  • is part of a field system or looks to be related to any building or other feature associated with the field system that existed before the Inclosure Acts (that is before 1845)
  • contains protected species listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • contains species that are endangered, vulnerable and rare and identified in the British Red Data books
  • includes woody species and associated features as specified in Schedule 1, Part II Criteria, paragraph 7(1) of the regulations. The number of woody species needed to meet the criteria is one less in northern counties (see paragraph 14) of the regulations

Apply to remove a countryside hedgerow

You should discuss your proposal to remove a hedgerow with us first to make sure it’s legal to do so. Please complete the Hedgerow removal application form (PDF/175KB/3 pages).

You’ll need to:

  • clearly identify which hedgerow you propose to remove by marking it on a large scale plan (preferably 1:2,500 scale)
  • say why you want to remove it
  • provide evidence that the hedge is less than 30 years old, such as a receipt of the plants, a photograph taken within the last 29 years or relevant documentation
  • state whether you are the owner, tenant or manager of the hedgerow, or the relevant utility company eligible to remove it

How we will respond

We have 42 days to respond to your written notice to remove a hedgerow. If you have not provided enough evidence we will ask you to send in appropriate documents. The 42-day deadline will start again from the date we receive all your documents. In that time we must consult with the relevant parish council. Parish councils can ask for more time to consider your proposal, but all parties must agree a new deadline.

We can issue:

  • a hedgerow retention notice - if the hedge is protected and must be kept
  • a written notice giving permission to remove it in the way you have proposed

You have up to 2 years from the date of the written notice giving you permission to remove the hedgerow. You must apply for permission again if you allow 2 years to elapse.

You can remove the hedgerow if you don’t hear back from us within the 42-day period.

We must keep a public record of all hedgerow notices that we issue. We don't have to consult anyone, except the local parish council, but we must consider any objections we receive.

Appeal a hedgerow decision

You can appeal if we have sent you either:

  • a retention notice, saying you can’t remove a hedgerow
  • a replacement notice, telling you to replace a hedgerow you have already removed

You must appeal within 28 days of our decision.

Countryside hedgerow maintenance

Management of a hedgerow, for example clipping or laying, does not need consent. If you are in any doubt what restrictions there may be to trimming, cutting, coppicing or laying a hedgerow, please contact us  before you start work.

Nesting birds

You must not do any work which might harm nesting birds or destroy their nests. Nesting birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1980. You’ll usually find nesting birds during the main nesting and breeding season from 1 March to 31 August.

Report a suspected offence against nesting wild birds or their eggs to the local police.  Ask for a wildlife crime officer to investigate for illegal activity.

Protection of trees in countryside hedgerows and licensing

Before carrying out work on hedgerow trees you must check if:

  • the tree(s) are protected by a tree preservation order (TPO)
  • you need a felling licence - issued by the Forestry Commission
  • the tree(s) are in a conservation area

Submitting a planning application where trees may be affected.

Trees are very important and we must take them into consideration when assessing a planning application for proposed development.

For more details of what is needed when submitting a planning application where trees are on or adjacent to the site:

validation checklist

supplementary planning information