In England Local Planning Authorities have the power to protect important trees by making a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Trees may also be protected by virtue of standing in a Conservation Area.
This article is an introduction to TPOs and Conservation Areas as the law stands in England. The law in Scotland and Wales differs slightly and if you are located in these countries you should seek further advice.
Tree Preservation Orders
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority which in general makes it an offence to cut down, lop, top, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without first getting permission from the Local Planning Authority.
Tree Preservation Orders are usually made to protect trees which make a significant contribution to the amenity of an area. They may particularly be made when it is felt that a tree may be under threat.
Trees in Conservation Areas
A Conservation Area is an area designated by the Local Planning Authority because of its special character. This is usually done because of the special architectural or historical importance of an area.
Most trees within a Conservation Area enjoy the same level of protection as if they were covered by a TPO.
In addition to Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas there are various other factors which may constrain work to trees.