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Ribble Valley Borough Council

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by the council giving legal protection to a tree, a group of trees or woodland. A TPO prevents the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or destruction of trees (including cutting roots) without council permission.

If the tree is protected, you will need written consent from the council to carry out the work. If written consent is not obtained, and work is carried out on a protected tree, the owner or person carrying out the work could be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000 for felling without permission or £2,500 for lopping, topping or causing damage.

If you see works being carried out that you suspect may be unauthorised, please contact 01200 414505. If you are able to obtain information such as photographs or details of the contractor, without putting yourself at risk, this will help the council in any enforcement action.

How do I know if a tree is protected?

You can find out if a tree is protected by downloading our list of Protected Trees in the Ribble Valley. You can also visit the Council Offices in Clitheroe to inspect the register or contact the Countryside Officer at planning@ribblevalley.gov.uk or 01200 414505.

What type of trees can be covered by a TPO?

Anything that would normally be classified as a 'tree' may be covered by a TPO. There is no minimum size but bushes and shrubs cannot be covered.

When is a TPO served?

A TPO is issued when it is believed that a tree or number of trees are:

  • Under threat of being felled, when a development is approved and trees on site need protection
  • When a tree is considered to be of significant visual amenity value
  • When a tree is of significant historical/botanical importance

How is it decided whether to designate a TPO?

We will consider requests for TPOs against three main criteria:

  • the tree's particular importance in terms of its size, form, rarity, screening value or contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area
  • the significance of the tree(s) in their local surroundings and wider impact on the environment
  • the council can also designate a TPO as a precautionary measure, if there is reason to believe the tree could be at risk in the future.

Can I work on a protected tree?

Yes. If you wish to carry out work to a protected tree you must apply to the council for permission by completing an Application for Tree Works form. The work must be in accordance with British Standards for tree work and carried out by an approved contractor.

Anyone can apply for permission to undertake works on a protected tree, even if they don't own it. But you will need permission from the owner.

You have the right to appeal against a decision and details of how to appeal are sent with all decision letters.

However, sometimes it may be necessary to obtain a Felling Licence from the Forestry Commission.

Felling Licences are required when more than 5 cubic metres of timber are felled in any calendar quarter, or more than 2 cubic metres are sold. In which case you require permission from the Forestry Commission's Conservator for the Region. More information and contact details can be found on the Forestry Commission website for North West and Midlands Area www.forestry.gov.uk/wmidlands

Do I need permission to do emergency work?

If a tree is protected, but is dead, dying or dangerous you must give the council notice of your intentions to carry out work. You can carry out work without prior notice if the danger is immediate, for example if the tree is in imminent danger of falling and will cause damage or injury if it does.

If you intend to do this you are strongly advised to collect evidence in the form of photographs, a tree surgeon's report and an independent witness's statement. The council may require you to prove that the tree was dead, dying or dangerous at a later date.

If you get permission to fell a protected tree you should replace the tree if there is enough space for a tree to be planted. If there is not enough space replanting will not be enforced.


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  2. Trees in Conservation Areas