If you’re not sure whether a specimen is protected, you should check to see if there is a disc on it which shows that it is protected. In the event there’s no disc, then you should call your local authority to determine if it is protected or not.
The local authority has the ability to create, vary as well as revoke TPOs. This basically means that you can send in an application for a protection order to be removed during your planning process. It is best to check the provided government guidance for further information.
Why can’t you cut down the tree?
You may be wondering why you can’t simply cut down the tree, however, it is a criminal offence to do so. Therefore, you should check the plot to see if there is a TPO or tree preservation order in place, before doing anything. A TPO can be for one particular tree, a group or even an entire woodland.
If you cut down a tree that is protected, then you will be charged. The typical penalties are quite heavy and there is currently a maximum charge of £20,000.
Once there is no TPO for the specific tree or group of trees that you want to cut down and they are not in a conservation, you can cut it/them down, once they are on your land or property. However, you still need to be careful, especially if the tree is on a shared boundary. In the event that cutting down the tree poses a danger, you can’t just cut it down.
An example is even though leylandii doesn’t have a protection order, in most cases it’s on a boundary and that means you will need to come to a mutual solution with the neighbors.
For some people, a leylandii hedge can be seen as a form of privacy, however, for others it can be seen as a nuisance that is blocking the light. As a result, differing opinions can cause great tension, but the local authority won’t intervene.
Assessment & Survey
In a planning application, it will ask details of whether there are any trees on the land or near to it that would be affected by the planned work. In the event that the answer is yes, then you will need to do a tree survey to be included with the application. In the event that the trees will need to be cut down or altered, then an “Arboricultural Impact Assessment” will need to be done.
In this assessment, the tree or trees will be inspected to determine their species, age, size and quality. The results will then be compared against the British Standard 5837:2005. In the report, there will be further details on necessary root protection and how the planned work will affect the tree(s). Within the report, there will also be recommendations on whether the tree should be cut down or not.
Self builders & Plot Assessment
In most cases, the planning permission will say that you will most likely need engineered foundations so that the mature roots of the trees can be protected. Even though this will be more expensive, it is a necessity and you should take this into consideration in the overall valuation of the land before you purchase it.