People who have a garden face £20,000 fine over little-known tree law

Gardeners could be slapped with a hefty £20,000 fine for a common garden task. Spring feels like a natural gardening time for many, with many UK households venturing out to tidy their gardens and take care of their lawns for the first time over the spring months.

Paul Chappell, the owner of forestry tool supply company DTW Tools, said gardeners should take care not to fall foul of one tree law. He said: "It is a fineable offence to cut down, uproot and destroy any distressed or damaged tree that is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), in a Conservation Area or over five cubic metres in volume."

He added: "Anyone who breaches the rules may be fined up to £20,000, prosecuted for felling without a licence, and served a notice to replace any protected trees that have been destroyed. Serious offences may be subject to unlimited fines."

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One Brit replied to the warning saying: "Councils ought to put as much effort in catching fly tippers and litter louts and people who leave their dog mess in the streets, or throw the poo bags on trees. I don't think cutting a few branches off a tree will harm it. How do trees fair when branches get blown off during a storm?"

"Yet building companies can cut down swathes of trees and nothing happens and get away with the "Oops! we didn't mean to cut those down" excuse. The public are worried about a tree that has grown over the years close to their house, the council inspectors refuse to allow it to be touched," a second said.

"Councils should worry more about council estate gardens that are left to over grow,full of black bags,litter or discarded furniture," another agreed. Where a tree must be felled outside of a private garden, you may need a felling licence.

If the tree, or trees, amount to 5 cubic metres of timber by volume, it’s usually an offence to fell without one.