Tree works and preservation
How to find out if a tree is protected and when you need permission to work on protected trees
Before you carry out any work on or cut down a tree you need to check if:
- it is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
- it is in a conservation area
- there are any planning conditions that protect it
- it is part of a protected countryside hedgerow
You may be prosecuted for working on or removing protected trees without permission.
It's against the law to do any work which might harm wild birds or their nests.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
TPOs can be placed on individual trees, groups and woodlands. Their purpose is to protect trees in the interests of amenity and typically when under threat.
All trees covered by a TPO are protected by law and it is an offence to carry out most operations on a tree within Arun that is covered by a TPO without our permission. This includes cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or destruction of trees and roots.
If a protected tree is damaged and/or destroyed without permission, the owner or person doing the work may be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000 per tree in a Magistrates’ court or a possible unlimited fine if a case proceeds to Crown Court.
Find out if a tree is protected
You can see Tree Preservation Orders and conservation areas on our interactive online map.
A conservation area is defined as an area of special architectural or historical interest, whose character or appearance is desirable to preserve. Trees can complement and enhance a conservation area which gives them a level of legal protection. Trees in conservation areas may also be protected by a Tree Preservation Order which would take precedence.
You must get permission before working on any tree which is within a conservation area. Unique exceptions in addition to those permissible where a Tree Preservation Order applies are trees which:
- have trunks smaller than 7.5cm in diameter (roughly an adult's wrist size) at 1.5m height above ground level
- are commercially cultivated for fruit
You must apply for permission at least 6 weeks in advance of any proposed work to trees in conservation areas. This gives us time to assess the contribution the tree makes to the character of the conservation area and whether to allow the work to take place.
There may be landscaping conditions attached to a planning permission which require that a tree is replaced should it be removed or die within a certain period.
To check whether this is the case you would need to check the planning history for the property to see if there is a planning condition relating to the landscaping.
Report a breach
Contact us if you see works being carried out that you suspect do not have permission.
Dangerous, diseased and dead trees
If you need to do urgent work on a protected tree that is dangerous, for example presents an immediate threat to life or property, you may be asked to provide proof after carrying out the work.
Before carrying out the work you are strongly advised to:
- contact our Parks and Greenspace team for advice
- take photographs of the tree
- retain sections of felled timber and/or cordwood
If a tree is dead but not dangerous you must give us at least 5 working days’ written notice before carrying out any work.
If a tree is diseased or dying but not dangerous you will need to submit a planning application for any work.
For more information see the government’s guidance on Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas.