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Tree preservation orders

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are administered by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) (e.g. a borough, district or unitary council or a national park authority) and are made to protect trees that bring significant amenity benefit to the local area. This protection is particularly important where trees are under threat.

All types of tree, but not hedges, bushes or shrubs, can be protected, and a TPO can protect anything from a single tree to all trees within a defined area or woodland. Any species can be protected, but no species is automatically protected by a TPO.

A TPO is a written order, which in general, makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by that order, or to cause or permit such actions, without the LPA’s permission. Anyone found guilty of such an offence is liable, if convicted in the Magistrates Court, to a fine of up to £20,000. In serious cases the case may be dealt with in the Crown Court, where an unlimited fine can be imposed. You can find out more about TPOs on the Planning Portal website.

To make an application to carry out tree works you will need to complete an application form and submit it to Medway Council. The form can either be submitted through the Planning Portal or directly to Medway Council. You might also find it helpful to take a look at the guidance notes available on the Planning Portal and seek the advice of a tree surgeon prior to making an application. The directory of Arboricultural Association approved Contractors and Medway Council’s Fair Trader Scheme will help you find suitable contractors. Alternatively you may feel it would be worthwhile discussing your proposals with Medway Council, who welcomes the opportunity to give pre-application advice before you complete the application form, but there is a charge for this service.

Medway Council is committed to fulfilling its duty to protect trees and woodlands by making TPOs and controlling any work carried out on those trees, but recognises that there will be occasions where the pruning or removal of protected trees is justified. When reaching a decision on each and every TPO application for works, the Council will take account of advice found on the Planning Portal. When the Council decide to refuse consent the reasons are detailed in the decision notice and the applicant is provided with details of how to appeal the decision.

This form should be completed for further information (such as whether or not a particular tree is protected by a TPO), for help with obtaining copies of TPO documents, or to request blank paper copies of the application form. If you believe someone is undertaking unauthorised work on a protected tree, please report the matter to Medway Council who will investigate the case. It is vital that you provide as much information as possible, including details of the people undertaking the works.