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  6. Revised tree preservation regime finalised

Revised tree preservation regime finalised

The new Tree Preservation Order (TPO) regime for England involves two key changes from the proposals for more streamlined and consolidated arrangements consulted on two years ago, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced.

First, the Government has decided to increase the default period for the duration of consents for work on trees from one year to two.

“This will increase flexibility for tree owners and make it consistent with the existing period for notified work to trees in conservation areas. It remains open to the local authority to vary this period if appropriate by use of conditions,” explained the department.

Second, DCLG has determined that there should be a requirement for a tree owner other than a statutory undertaker to give written prior notice to the local authority of their intention to carry out works authorised by an exemption, unless there was imminent danger.

“This requirement was present in pre-1999 TPOs and recommended in guidance. The prior notice (by e-mail or letter) will not be onerous and will provide the local authority involved with an opportunity to require a full application if there was doubt the exemption applied, and therefore potentially may avoid litigation,” said DCLG.

The TPO system provides the principal regulatory means for protecting trees. Local planning authorities make and manage TPOs which prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, willful destruction or willful damage of protected trees without an authority’s consent.

The revised arrangements are designed to create a consolidated system that would apply to all orders by:

  • replacing the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999 (No.1982) (the “1999 Regulations”) so far as they relate to England
  • replacing the Town and Country Planning (Trees) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2008 (No.2260) and the Town and Country Planning (Trees) (Amendment No.2) (England) Regulations (No.3202) (the “2008 Regulations”)
  •  reducing the size of all existing and future tree preservation orders by retaining only the information that identifies the trees protected
  • moving subsections 198(3), (4), (6), (8) and (9), and sections 199, 201, 203-205 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the Act”) to the new regulations.

The new regime also includes a new model order. The new regulations, entitled the Town and County Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012, have been laid before Parliament.

Access Tree preservation orders: proposals for streamlining - Government response to the consultation.

Roger Milne

4 April 2012