Protected Trees and Hedges

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by the Council giving legal protection to a tree, a group of trees or a woodland. A TPO prevents the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or destruction of the tree(s) or any part of the tree(s) without the written consent of the Local Planning Authority.

If the tree is protected you will need written consent from the Council before you carry out any tree work. If written consent is not obtained, and work is carried out on a protected tree, the owner and the person carrying out the work may be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000 for felling without permission or £2,500 for lopping, topping or causing damage. If the case is heard in the High Court the fine is unlimited.

If you see works being carried out that you suspect may be unauthorised, please contact the Countryside Officer immediately. If you are able to obtain photographs of the work taking place 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.

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, and in the case of woodland TPOs all trees and all tree regeneration (saplings and seedlings) are protected by the order.

When is a TPO served?

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

  • Under perceived threat of being felled, and/or;
  • Within or adjacent to a development site and may be at risk, and/or;
  • Considered to be of significant visual amenity value, and/or;
  • Considered to be of significant historical/botanical importance

How is it decided whether to designate a TPO?

We will consider requests for TPOs against these main criteria:

  • The size, form, rarity, screening value, and/or contribution to a conservation area of the tree(s)
  • The significance of the tree(s) within the area and the impact on the environment
  • Whether it is believed that the tree could be at risk in the future

Can I work on a protected tree?

If you wish to carry out work to a protected tree you must apply to the Council for permission by completing an application for work to trees. Alternatively you may fill in an application online via the Planning Portal. Anyone may apply for permission to undertake work on a protected tree, even if they don't own it, but you will need permission from the owner before you carry out the tree work.

All tree work must be carried out in accordance with British Standard 3998 for tree work and carried out by a fully qualified and insured arboricultural contractor. Sub-standard work on a protected tree may result in the prosecution of the owner and the contractor, and failure to ensure that the contractor is qualified and insured puts the owner at risk in the event of an accident.

Do I need a felling licence?

Felling licences are required when more than five cubic metres of timber are felled in any calendar quarter, or more than two cubic metres are sold. Felling licences are administered by the Forestry Commission and overrule Tree Preservation Order and Conservation Area restrictions, however, the Local Planning Authority is consulted before any licence is granted. More information can be found on the Forestry Commission website.

Do I need permission to do emergency work?

If a protected tree is dead or dangerous you must give the Council a 5 day notice of intention. In an emergency you may carry out work without prior notice, for example if the tree may fall at any moment and when it falls it will cause significant damage or injury.

If you intend to do this then you must collect evidence of the condition of the tree in the form of photographs, a tree surgeon's report and an independent witness's statement. The Council will require you to submit your evidence with the 5 day notice, or as soon as possible in the event of emergency tree work. Failure to prove that the tree was dead or dangerous will result in prosecution under the Town and Country Planning Act.

Do I have to plant replacement trees?

Yes. It is a requirement under the Act for felled trees to be replaced both if they are protected by TPO or are within a conservation area. In certain circumstances the Council may wish to waive this requirement, or may suggest that you donate to a Council run tree planting scheme in lieu of replacement trees.

It is normal for the Council to request replacement trees at a ratio of either 2:1 or 3:1 depending on the significance of the tree(s) felled.