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Tree Preservation Orders

Local Councils have a legal duty to protect trees. The councils make tree preservation orders to do the following.

  • Strengthen a condition which is part of a planning permission.
  • Protect trees which are particularly attractive, even if there is no direct threat to them.
  • Protect important trees or groups of trees which are in danger of being cut down.
  • Protect woodland by replanting areas of trees which we agree can be cut down.

Why Protect Trees

Cutting down woodland, trees and groups of trees can destroy the setting of buildings, parts of a town, and areas where wildlife live.

Also, proposals for extensions or new buildings can sometimes threaten woodland and trees.

What do tree preservation orders do?

Tree preservation orders do the following.

  • Keep and protect woodland, trees and groups of trees which add to the character and appearance of an area.
  • Keep and protect the structure and variety of woodland, especially where they offer protection to natural wildlife habitats.
  • Make sure that new developments take into account the landscape setting.

How do we decide when a tree preservation order is needed?

We may find out that a tree preservation order is needed in a number of ways.

  • We may identify trees which are important to the appearance of the general area and which may be cut down if a proposed new building is built.
  • Another part of the Department of the Environment (NI) may tell us that we need to protect an area where they think the trees are of special importance or where the area is of special scientific interest or an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • We may hear from different people that certain trees may be under threat and need protecting immediately.

We then assess any possible threat and the importance of the trees before we decide whether a tree preservation order is needed.

What are the procedures?

First we make a tree preservation order which takes effect immediately. This means we can protect trees which may be under threat.

We then tell the owners and occupiers of the land, and any other people who may have an interest, that we have.made a tree preservation order. We will sometimes announce that we have made the tree preservation order in the local newspapers.

When we have made a tree preservation order, interested people or the landowner or a developer, may object, write to us to support the order, or simply give us their views.

What if I object?

If you disagree with the tree preservation order, you must object in writing within 28 days of being notified. You can also ask for a hearing before the Planning Appeals Commission.

We then consider all objections and other letters we receive, and the report of the Planning Appeals Commission if there has been a hearing. We will either:

  • confirm;
  • withdraw; or
  • amend;

the tree preservation order.

Can protected trees ever be cut down?

There are times when trees that are protected by a tree preservation order may be cut down. If the trees are dead, dying or dangerous, or if the trees need to be managed to remove a nuisance, or threat to life or property, you can ask for our written permission to cut them down or prune them

What happens if I cut down a protected tree without permission?

Work which is not exempt and which is carried out without the formal consent of the Council is illegal. The Council may prosecute offenders and fines of up to 20,000 for each tree may be imposed by the Magistrates Court in the event of them being convicted of an offence. If proceedings are instituted in the Crown Court fines are unlimited. There is a duty to replace any tree removed without permission.

Enter your town or council into the box below to see details about tree preservation orders local to you.


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