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Tree preservation orders
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) gives legal protection to trees
or woodland, which may be under threat or have a significant
impact on their local surroundings.
Find out more about:
Landowners remain responsible for the care, maintenance and
safety of all protected trees growing on their land and are advised
to have any trees growing on their property regularly inspected by
a suitably qualified arboriculturist. However, the council's
permission is required before carrying out work on them unless they
are dying, dead or dangerous.
Trees on development sites can be protected by TPOs or by
conditions attached to a planning permission or both. Planning
conditions may also require the developer to plant new trees which
may be covered by a TPO which will take effect once the trees are
An application is not required for tree works necessary to
implement a development which has the benefit of full, detailed
planning permission and where the trees are directly in the way of
that development which is about to start.
If the development only has outline planning permission or does
not require planning permission, you must apply to Medway Council
for permission under the TPO to prune branches or roots or
to fell the tree.
A planning application may be refused if it would result in the
loss of a tree or trees that provide significant amenity value to
the local environment.
Medway Council does consider the impact of a development
proposal on trees when it assesses planning applications but once
approved, a full, detailed planning permission will override a TPO
where the trees are directly in the way of development that is
about to start.
If you would like advice on protecting trees on a development
site please contact us. The advice, which is free, is best sought
before submitting an application, as this will make the successful
retention of suitable trees easier and avoids the costly alteration
Objecting to a TPO
If you would like to
support or object to a Tree Protection Order, get in
touch online or write to Customer First using the details at
the bottom of this page. This has to be done within 28 days of
the service of the order with details of the TPO to which they
relate. You can also use this online form
unauthorised works on protected trees.
Medway Council makes TPOs in Medway. Often trees are protected
if they come under threat but not all trees are worthy of being
protected by a TPO. In Medway, tree officers use the following
criteria when deciding to make a new TPO:
- the extent to which the general public can see the tree
- the tree's importance in terms of its size, form, rarity,
screening value or contribution to the character or appearance of
- the significance of the tree in its local surroundings and
wider impact on the environment
- the health and general condition of the tree in relation to its
- whether or not the tree is growing on Crown land
- whether or not the trees is the subject of any approved
forestry grant scheme.
A TPO comes into effect immediately and continues for six months
or until it is confirmed, whichever comes first. When Medway
Council confirms the TPO it can modify it, for example by excluding
some of the trees.
It is an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage
or wilfully destroy a protected tree without Medway Council’s
permission. The deliberate destruction of a tree may result in
legal proceedings leading to fines of up to £20,000 if convicted in
the magistrates’ court. There are other offences that can result in
fines of up to £2,000. You will normally have to plant a
replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed. You can
also use this online form to report
unauthorised works on protected trees.
Permission to work on protected trees is not
- they are to be cut down in accordance with a Forestry
Commission grant scheme
- where a felling licence has been granted
- the tree is dying, dead, or dangerous
- the work is in line with a duty under an Act of Parliament
- the work is at the request of certain organisations mentioned
in the TPO
- trees or branches are directly in the way of development that
is about to start, for which detailed planning permission has been
- the trees are in a commercial orchard and grown for fruit
- the works are necessary to prevent or control a legal nuisance
(a definition of legal nuisance should be sought from a
Except in an emergency, Medway Council's Tree Officer in
Development Management should be given at least five days' notice
before cutting down a protected tree which is dead, dying or
dangerous. In all other instances, please check with the tree
officer before working on protected trees under one or more of the
In emergencies, you are allowed to carry out whatever work is
required to deal with dangerous trees without prior notice to
Medway Council. The work must only be what is absolutely necessary
and any additional work will require an application to the
You must inform the council if you have carried out work to a
damaged protected tree, ideally within five days. It is strongly
recommended that, where possible, you take sufficient photographs
of the damage and where appropriate get a professional tree surgeon
to make a report, as it will be your responsibility to prove that
the work carried out was essential to make the tree safe and could
not wait for an application. Failure to provide this evidence could
result in a prosecution.
How to make an application to carry out work on a protected
Please download, complete and return
TPO application form.
Guidance notes are provided.
- It is important that the application clearly and accurately
describes the proposed work, reasons for completing the work and
the location of the tree(s). For example: “To cut back from a
neighbouring house by 2m.”
- Copies of the Arboricultural Association leaflet No. 8
Mature Tree Maintenance can be obtained from Medway
Council’s Tree Team using the contact details at the bottom of this
- Please include any relevant tree reports or structural
engineer's report with the application.
- All works approved by Medway Council must be undertaken by a
competent person, in accordance with British Standard 3998 (Tree
Works) within the specified time scale. Advice on suitable works
methods can be sought from the Tree Team.
- If a protected tree is cut down, a replacement specimen usually
has to be planted. The requirement will vary depending on the
circumstances. You will have to replant:
- if you cut down or destroy a protected tree in breach of an
order, except in the case of woodland, because the tree is dying,
dead or dangerous, unless the council says you need not;
- if the council gives you permission to cut down a protected
tree but makes replanting a condition of its consent;
- in most cases where the Forestry Commission grants a felling
- Only one application is needed, regardless of the number of
different operations the applicant intends to do. This can cover
permission for a programme of work over a specified period.
- A Forestry Commission felling licence will usually be needed if
trees containing more than five cubic metres of timber are to be
cut down on sites other than residential gardens, orchards,
churchyards or public open spaces.
- If a felling licence is required and the trees are protected by
a TPO, the Forestry Commission will deal with your application in
consultation with the council, which may appeal against any
decision the Forestry Commission makes.
- Where the Commission proposes to grant a licence, it will first
give notice to the council. In such cases, the council has the
right to object to the proposal and if it does, the application
will be referred for decision to the Department for Communities and
Local Government (DCLG).
- Applicants should note that the commission almost always
requires felled areas to be re-stocked and does not normally grant
licences to change woodland to agricultural use. The council will
notify you in writing within eight weeks of your application.
- It will also write to the owner of the tree and other
interested parties, enclosing a copy of the order.
If consent is refused or granted with conditions you have a
right to appeal within 28 days of receiving the decision
letter. If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal
to the First Secretary of State. This appeal must be made within 28
days from the date you receive this decision by writing to:
The Environment Team
The Planning Inspectorate
Temple Quay House,
2 The Square
Appeals are normally decided without a formal hearing, on the
basis of written statements followed by a site visit. Both the tree
owner and the council have the right to a public local hearing or
enquiry. The Secretary of State may allow or dismiss the appeal or
vary the original decision.
You may be entitled to recover from the council compensation for
any loss or damage which results. If you wish to make a claim you
must do so within 12 months of the date of the decision. Claims
should be made in writing to The Principal Tree Officer.
The Forestry Commission is
responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests
and woodlands. The website includes specific
advice on tree felling. To find out more write to:
231 Corstorphine Road
The Department for Communities and Local
Government has published
Tree Preservation Orders: A Guide to the Law and Good
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