Trees play a vital role in our Hampshire environment, providing shade, filtering air, and enhancing the beauty of our surroundings. In recognition of their importance, local authorities have the power to grant Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) to protect trees from unnecessary harm.
There can be uncertainty around which trees have a TPO or what level of TPO a tree has. We can help you understand what is covered and what work can be done on your tree. You can learn more about our Hampshire TPO Services here.
What are Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)?
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a legal instrument that applies to trees that are deemed to be of amenity value to the public or to the local environment. TPOs are granted by local planning authorities to prevent the removal, topping, lopping, or damaging of protected trees.
Why are TPOs important?
TPOs aim to protect trees from being unnecessarily removed or damaged, ensuring their long-term health and ecological benefits for the community and the environment. They also contribute to maintaining the character and beauty of neighborhoods and towns.
Types of TPOs
There are two types of TPOs:
- Full TPOs: These orders apply to all trees within a defined area, protecting them from any form of removal or damage without prior permission from the local authority.
- Partial TPOs: These orders apply to specific trees within a designated area, indicating the extent of protection that each tree enjoys. For instance, a TPO may prohibit the removal of a tree’s crown but allow for selective pruning.
Identifying Protected Trees
To ensure compliance with TPO regulations, it’s crucial to identify whether or not a tree is protected. The most straightforward way to do this is to consult the local authority’s Tree Preservation Order Register. This register typically includes a list of all trees that are subject to TPOs, along with the boundaries of the affected areas.
In addition, many local authorities provide online tools or maps that allow you to search for protected trees based on their address or location. These tools can be particularly helpful for homeowners who are unsure whether their trees are protected.
Seeking Permission for Tree Work
If you own a property with a protected tree and require any form of tree services, such as pruning, crown reduction, or removal, you must obtain prior permission from the local authority. This permission is typically granted through a formal application process that involves submitting detailed plans and justifications for the proposed work.
Application Process for Tree Work
The application process for tree work typically involves the following steps:
- Submit a Tree Work Application Form: Obtain the appropriate Tree Work Application Form from the local authority’s website or office.
- Prepare Comprehensive Plans: Prepare detailed plans that clearly illustrate the proposed tree work, including the extent of the work, the location of the trees, and the proposed methods of execution.
- Justify the Need for Tree Work: Provide a comprehensive justification for the proposed tree work, explaining the reasons for the work and how it aligns with the best interests of the tree, the property, and the surrounding environment.
- Schedule a Site Inspection: The local authority may require a site inspection to assess the condition of the trees, the proposed work, and the overall impact on the property and the surrounding area.
- Receive Decision and Authorization: Upon reviewing the application materials, the local authority will either grant permission for the proposed tree work, request modifications, or deny the application.
Potential Consequences of Non-compliance with TPOs
Failure to obtain permission for tree work on a protected tree can result in serious consequences, including:
- Enforcement Action: The local authority may serve an enforcement notice requiring the cessation of the unauthorized tree work and the restoration of the tree to its previous condition.
- Legal Action: If the enforcement notice is ignored, the local authority may pursue legal action to compel compliance and/or impose fines.
- Criminal Prosecution: In extreme cases, individuals who deliberately damage or destroy protected trees may face criminal prosecution and penalties.
TPOs are an essential tool for protecting trees and ensuring their long-term health and ecological benefits for society. By understanding the regulations, identifying protected trees, and seeking permission for tree work, homeowners and property managers can safeguard their beloved trees and avoid potential legal repercussions.
If you have any TPO-related questions, do get in touch, and we will be happy to help.
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