Tree Preservation Orders
The National Park Authority has specific powers to protect trees by making Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). The law on TPOs is in part VIII of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (external site, opens new window) and in the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999.
A TPO is an Order made by the Authority to protect trees and woodlands. It can only be used to protect trees and woodlands and it cannot be applied to shrubs, bushes or hedgerows, but and Order may be used to protect trees growing in hedgerows or hedgerows that have grown into a line of trees.
The Authority may make a TPO if it appears to it to be;
‘expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the preservation of trees or woodlands in the area’.
Section 198(1) Town and Country Planning Act 1990
Expedient means there is a risk of a tree or woodland being cut down or being pruned in a way which will have significant impact on the amenity of the area. Mostly a threat to trees arises through development pressure and the Authority will seek to protect trees of high amenity value when granting or refusing planning permission.
Amenity is not defined in the Act, but the Authority will only protect a tree or woodland if there is a reasonable degree of public enjoyment of that tree or woodland. A tree would normally have to be visible wholly or partly from publicly accessible land to be protected by a TPO. All types of trees can be protected not just native species.
Trees can be specified in the TPO either, individually, by reference to area, in groups or as woodlands. If a tree has merit in its own right it will be specified as an individual. Area classification is used as an alternative way of specifying scattered individual trees. The group specification is used for trees whose overall impact and quality merit protection. A woodland classification is used for woodlands which have a defined boundary.
The principle effect of a TPO is to prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or wilful destruction of protected trees.
The importance of trees in Conservation Areas is recognised in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (external site, opens new window) which makes special provision for trees in Conservation Areas which are not already protected by a Tree Preservation Order.