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:

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 trees, groups of trees and woodlands.  Their purpose is to protect trees that are significant to the landscape, important for wildlife or under threat.

All trees covered by a TPO are protected by law and it is an offence to carry out any work to 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 or fined £20,000 or twice the value of each tree, whichever is the higher amount.

Find out if a tree is protected

You can see Tree Preservation Orders and conservation areas on our interactive online map.

Open TPO map

Conservation Areas

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.

You must get permission before working on any tree which is within a conservation area. The exceptions 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
  • are dangerous
  • form part of a hedge of two or more trees 

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.

Planning conditions

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, you may be asked to provide proof after carrying out the work that the tree was dangerous, diseased or dead.

Before carrying out the work you are strongly advised to:

  • contact our Tree Officer for advice
  • take photographs of the tree
  • retain sections of felled timber
  • give us at least 5 days’ notice before carrying out work if there is no immediate threat to life or property

Further information

For more information see the government’s guidance on Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas.


Technical Support Unit