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What are Tree Preservation Orders

01:00 Thu 20th Dec 2001 |

A.� It is an order made by the local authority that prohibits the chopping down, lopping or wilful damage of a tree that is considered in some way important to the local environment.

The orders, or TPOs as they are commonly known, are made under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990.

Since the Second World War Britain lost something in the region of half its native tree cover, much to housing development. TPOs are important in making developers take the local landscape into account when they design and build new housing.

Q.� Are TPOs only designed to protect ancient or rare trees

A.� No, they can be applied to any tree at all, however big or small, as long as it is deemed to have a significant impact on its surroundings and the character of the immediate area.

They can be placed on an individual tree or a whole woodland. However, TPOs can not be put on hedges (although they are applied to hedgerow trees), bushes or shrubs.

Q.� How do they come about

A.� In various ways. TPOs may be placed on trees as part of general planning restrictions on a proposed new development, they may be used to protect trees in places that have been designated as conservation areas or sites of special scientific interest or outstanding natural beauty or they may be put in place at the request of individual members of the public.

Q.� If we are worried a tree might be at risk from a developer or and individual owner, what should we do

A.� If you think a significant tree is about to be cut down or damaged and you are not happy about it get in touch with the planning department of your local authority immediately. Most have a designated Tree Officer. They will come and inspect the tree and if they feel it is significant they can put a TPO on it on the spot.

Q.� What if other people don't agree

A. When the local authority issues a TPO they have to inform all interested parties such as developers, landowners or people in neighbouring properties.

If anyone doesn't agree they have 28 days to object in writing. They can also ask for a hearing in front of the Planning Appeals Commission. The planning officers will then review the objections and can either withdraw or amend the order.

Q.� What can happen to someone who cuts down or damages a tree with a TPO on it

A.� If someone really wants rid of a tree they will often get rid of it and ask questions later. However, if you are found guilty of felling or damaging a tree with a TPO on it you can be fined up to �20,000.

Q.� When is it legitimate to cut down a tree with a TPO on it

A.� You can cut down a protected tree if it is dying, dangerous or undermining your property. If you are worried about a tree the first thing to do is find out if it has a TPO on it. If it does you then need to ask the planning authority in writing for permission to fell or prune the tree. Always ask first, it could save you a lot of hassle and money.

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By Tom Gard

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