Tree preservation orders

No work can be carried out on a tree, or trees, protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) without the consent of the Local Planning Authority. With the onus to gain permission on the landowner or developer, our arboriculture team will work on your behalf to gain approval from the Authority. We also provide assessments for insurance purposes, where trees are indicated in cases of subsidence

Tree Preservation Order guidance

Legal protection

Trees can be legally protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), Conservation Areas and planning conditions. TPOs and Conservation Areas are enforced under the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012. This means that no work can be carried out on a protected tree or trees without the prior consent of the local planning authority. Contravention of a TPO can lead to unlimited fines for the destruction of a TPO tree or up to £2,500 for other offences. The onus on the landowner or developer can be daunting but our arboriculture team is here to help.


In October 2008 the 1App planning portal was introduced. This means that applications for work to trees protected by a TPO must now be completed on a standardised form. We can undertake this process for you, including advising on the tree work itself.

Pre-application consultation

For contentious or large applications involving a significant number of trees it is often best to arrange a pre-application consultation with the local planning authority to ensure that the proposed works, and their justification, are clearly understood. Our team is experienced in this negotiation process.

Appeals and objections

If you are the owner of, or have an interest in, trees upon which a TPO has recently been served and believe that the TPO is unwarranted, we can assist in preparing a formal objection. Objections must be submitted in writing within 28 days of the TPO serving date, so it is necessary to act quickly. Inform us as soon as the order has been served and we will then judge whether your TPO objection is likely to be successful and prepare a formal report to support it. Similarly, if your application has been refused we can review the refusal to determine whether it was warranted and whether there is justification for an appeal.

Tree Preservation Order guidance

Conservation Areas

Trees in Conservation Areas (a designation based on the architecture, history and character of the buildings in an area) are similarly protected, However, in this case, the local planning authority requires six weeks notice before the intended work can be carried out. This is in order for them to determine whether there is justification for a TPO to be served.

If you have an interest in land within a Conservation Area, we can assist by determining whether the serving of a TPO will be a likely response of the local planning authority to a notification, and, if so, how works can be prescribed to reduce the likelihood of this. This is a process we can see through from start to finish by identifying tree works, making the notification and then arranging the tree works.

Subsidence and trees

Assessment of tree involvement

Building damage from tree-related subsidence is a problem in parts of the country where the underlying soil type is shrinkable clay. Sometimes subsidence is caused by seasonal water removal by nearby mature trees. Whether soil movement is causing building damage is usually determined by crack monitoring over time. This is carried out by a structural engineer.

An arboriculturist may be called in when subsidence has been identified and it is suspected that trees are responsible for causing the ground to move by removing water from the soil. We survey the surrounding trees, noting their age, water demand potential and proximity to the damaged building and examine the soil to determine whether there are any tree roots within the potential ‘damage zone’. We then identify the species of any tree roots found. This allows us to determine which trees may be the cause of the problem.

If subsidence is confirmed as being due to the presence of trees, we will recommend works that could reduce the tree’s water usage. Practically, this usually means complete removal or extensive crown reduction. At this point it is important to establish whether the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation Area designation. Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, permission is usually required from the local planning authority before works can be carried out on protected trees. If this is required, we liaise with the local planning authority on your behalf and put together an application for works to a protected tree.

If the tree is not owned by the resident of the damaged building, we can help to negotiate with the tree owner and the insurance company to decide on a course of action that is agreeable to all parties.

Amenity tree valuation

Often a value needs to be attached to trees involved in subsidence cases to allow the insurance company to weigh up the relative costs and implications of removing or pruning the offending tree versus structurally reinforcing the damaged building.

We are experienced in using both the traditional Visual Amenity Valuation of Trees and Woodlands System (more commonly known as the Helliwell system) and the more recently developed Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT) system for assigning a monetary value to trees. Both systems have been tested in court, and are recognised throughout the industry as being the benchmarks for amenity tree valuation

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) covers my trees – what do I do now?

The team of experts at Thomson environmental consultants is on hand to advise and guide you through the responsibilities relating to trees covered by tree protection orders, contact us today.

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