Working on trees

Last Updated: 27 May 2021

Many trees in the district are protected either because they have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or because they are in a conservation area. You usually need to get permission from us to do work on them.

When you need permission to work on trees

You must let us know and get permission if you are working on:

Sometimes permission is not needed 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 a photo 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.

If you have to tell us about proposed work, it's best to get professional advice from a qualified tree surgeon before contacting us.

You may need to plant replacement trees.

If you're not sure if you need permission you must contact us, details at the bottom of this page.

Apply to work on trees

When you are making an application please take a look at our guidance for completing a tree work application

Trees in a conservation area

Check our online mapping: See if a tree you want to work on is in a conservation area (opens in a new tab)

  • in the 'My House' tab enter the post code or address where the tree is. This will open up the property details screen
  • in the column headed 'Planning' under the sub heading 'Conservation area' look to see if the property 'IS' or 'IS NOT' in a conservation area

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 TPO, normal TPO procedures apply.

If it is not covered by a TPO, you must submit a tree works application through Planning Portal.

Or notify us on paper: Notification for tree work form

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  tree work notification guidance notes (PDF 59KB / 2 pages).

Tree preservation orders (TPO's)

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.

Apply for permission to do work on protected trees online through the Planning Portal.

Or apply on paper: Application for tree work form

Please make sure you send us all the relevant information. Tree work application guidance notes (PDF 59KB / 2 pages)

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 eight weeks to be processed.

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 doing 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.

Planning applications 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 guidance checklist

Supplementary planning information