Trees and the Law

Trees are both protected by law and can also be a cause of dispute, whether between neighbours or a developer and a Local Planning Authority (LPA). We are able to offer independent professional advice to assist in the resolution of disputes as well as assisting tree owners with applications for simple works to trees.

Felling Licences

The overarching protection for trees is granted through the Forestry Act 1967. This requires that a licence is obtained from the Forestry Commission to fell any tree, with the exception of those covered under a limited list of exemptions. There is no requirement for a licence if:

  • The tree to be felled is under 8cm diameter
  • The volume of timber is less than 5 cubic metres (approximately 5 telegraph poles) per calendar quarter
  • The tree (or trees) is growing in a private garden, orchard, churchyard or open space.
  • The tree has been consented for removal through a planning permission
  • The abatement of a nuisance or to fell a trees that is hazardous
  • For any tree surgery works

The requirement for a felling licence does not generally impact on private householders but landowners with larger holding will need to be aware of the requirement for a licence when felling individual trees outside of woodlands. The increasing prevalence of diseases such as Chalara Ash dieback is bringing the potential for large scale felling without a licence to the fore. We can provide guidance and assistance in determining the need for a felling licence.

Conservation Areas

Trees in Conservation Areas are also protected from works that have not been approved by the LPA. The level of protection is not as high as with a Tree Preservation Order, and a tree owner is only required to notify the LPA of the intent to undertake works. However, the works themselves cannot commence until either the LPA has confirmed it has no objection to the proposal or a period of 6 weeks has passed. There are exemptions to this.

Tree Preservation Orders

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an instrument used by Local Planning Authorities to ensure the protection of important individual trees, groups of trees or woodlands, especially where there is considered to a threat of loss that would have a negative impact on the local area.

TPO are provided through a statutory instrument, The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012, and we can assist tree owners in applications for works to trees protected by a TPO. There may be occasions when a LPA makes a tree subject to a TPO and the tree owner wishes to object – we can assist in determining the suitability of the TPO and making an objection if required.

Veteran and Ancient Trees

Veteran and Ancient Trees are trees of exceptional importance in both cultural and ecological terms and therefore great care is required in their management. The National Planning Policy Framework provides some protection for these trees in a planning/development environment, as they are recognised as being irreplaceable habitat. Any planning application should be refused where it would result in the loss of such trees, unless there are exceptional circumstances. We are able to provide advice and guidance on management options for these trees to ensure they are maintained and can survive to the benefit of future generations.

Planning and Expert Witness

There are occasions where clients are unable to achieve their goal through the normal processes and wish to take their case to a higher authority for determination through the appeal process. We can assist in this whether through written representations, attendance at informal hearings or at public inquiries.