Homeowners warned of £20k fine if they cut down specific tree in their own back garden

A general image of a cut down tree
-Credit: (Image: Rob Browne)

Anyone planning on undergoing garden work this summer has been warned to check if any trees they plan on cutting down or lopping are subject to a Tree Preservation Order. These are made by a local planning authority in an effort to protect the wildlife.

And if someone damages a tree which has an order upon it, they could be fined thousands of pounds. This is even the case if it is a tree on land that they own which was made subject to an Order before or during their occupation of it.

In order to work on a tree with a Preservation Order, written consent is needed from the planning authority. Cutting roots is also a prohibited activity and requires the authority’s consent.

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The Gov website states: "A Tree Preservation Order is an order made by a local planning authority in England to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity."

An Order prohibits the:

  • cutting down

  • topping

  • lopping

  • uprooting

  • wilful damage

  • wilful destruction

of trees without the local planning authority’s written consent. If consent is given, it can be subject to conditions which have to be followed. In the Secretary of State’s view, cutting roots is also a prohibited activity and requires the authority’s consent.

How are Tree Preservation Orders made?

The Gov site says: "If a local planning authority makes an Order, it will serve notice on people with an interest in the land, inviting representations about any of the trees covered by the Order. A copy of the Order will also be made available for public inspection.

"Following consideration of any objections and comments the authorities can decide whether or not to confirm the Order."

The site adds: "Anyone who contravenes an Order by damaging or carrying out work on a tree protected by an Order without getting permission from the local planning authority is guilty of an offence and may be fined.

"There is also a duty requiring landowners to replace a tree removed, uprooted or destroyed in contravention of an Order. This duty also applies if a tree outside woodland is removed because it is dead or presents an immediate risk of serious harm.

"The local planning authority may also impose a condition requiring replacement planting when granting consent under an Order for the removal of trees. The authority can enforce tree replacement by serving a ‘tree replacement notice’."

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