Trees are essential for the health of our environment and provide clean air, food, shelter for wildlife as well as helping to prevent flooding and soil erosion.

​Important trees are protected by tree preservation orders (TPOs) to make sure they are not lost or damaged.

This means that all work affecting a tree and its roots must be agreed with by us in advance.

All types of trees can be protected but not hedges, bushes or shrubs. Find out more on the Woodland Trust website.

Purpose of a tree preservation order

Tree preservation orders make it unlawful to prune, damage or destroy a tree without our consent.

If convicted, you may be fined up to £20,000 for each tree. You would also need to replace any tree removed without permission.

Works that need permission

Works that need permission include the felling, lopping, topping and cutting the roots.

Works that do not need permission

You must apply for permission except under the following circumstances:

  • cutting down any tree under a forestry dedication covenant or a plan of operations approved by the forestry authority
  • where the forestry authority has granted a felling licence
  • cutting down or cutting back a tree which is dying, dead or dangerous but you need to give us 5 days’ notice of this work
  • where there is an obligation under an Act of Parliament
  • at the request of a government department for which detailed planning permission has been granted
  • a fruit tree cultivated for fruit production
  • to prevent or control a nuisance in a legal sense (check with a solicitor if necessary)

You can check with us by calling 01454 868004.

Even if permission is not required you must inform us that you are undertaking the work.

Conservation areas

Trees are also protected if they grow in a conservation area.

If a tree has a stem of over 75mm in diameter when measured 1.5 metres above ground level, you must give us 6 weeks’ notice before pruning or completing any other work.

Find out if a tree is protected

To find out if a tree is protected by a tree preservation order, contact us by:

You can get a copy of a TPO from our records for £27.50 plus printing costs by emailing records@southglos.gov.uk.

How to apply for permission

Once you have found out if the tree you intend to work on has a TPO, you can submit a tree works application to us.

You can apply for permission:

Make sure you include:

  • a plan which identifies the tree or trees
  • information about the work
  • your reasons for making the application

If there is structural damage to property or to tree health or safety you should include evidence.

The owner of a tree with the TPO is responsible for its maintenance but all works need consent from us before carried out.

If you live next to a property that has a tree with a TPO then you cannot undertake any work to that tree without consent from us and the landowner, even if part of it crosses your boundary.

Emergency permission for dying, dead or dangerous trees

You must give us 5 days’ notice before you start any work on a protected tree that is dying, dead or dangerous.

You can contact us by:

Make sure you include:

  • the address of where the tree is located
  • the species of the tree
  • the reasons why you need to remove the tree
  • a photograph of the tree
  • a site location plan

Submit a request for a tree preservation order

To submit a request, email naturalenvironment@southglos.gov.uk and include:

  • a photograph of the tree or trees
  • a location plan clearly marking the tree or trees
  • a brief description of the trees explaining why they should be protected

Trees cannot be protected if planning permission has been granted.

We try to respond within 15 days to requests where a tree is under threat. 

Find out who owns a tree

The owner of the land where the tree is rooted is the owner of that tree.

If a tree is on the boundary of 2 properties the deeds to those properties should be referenced to find the property boundaries.

The tree is within the property which contains most of the stump.

If the tree is on land of unknown ownership you can consult the Land Registry.

How trees on development sites are affected

Trees on development sites can be protected by tree preservation orders. They can also be protected by conditions attached to the planning permission.

Planning conditions may require you to replace protected trees if they are cut down to enable the development to go ahead.

Conditions will usually require you to protect trees from damage during the development.

If the development does not require planning permission (for example, putting up a garden shed) you must apply for permission under the tree preservation order in the normal way.

A local planning authority will consider the risk to protected trees when deciding planning applications. A tree preservation order cannot prevent planning permission being granted.

Trees on private land

If a tree is on private land, does not have a TPO and is not in a conservation area you do not need permission to carry out work.

If a neighbouring tree is overhanging, contact your neighbour. Under common law you can cut it back it back to your boundary. You cannot enter the property of the landowner without permission.

Grants for work on trees

You can apply for a grant to help with the cost of works on trees that have a tree preservation order or trees that are within a conservation area.

How to apply

You should request a grant by letter at the same time as applying to carry out the works. Make sure you include at least 2 cost estimates of the proposed tree works.

Who can get a grant

Our tree grants are discretionary.

Grants will only be paid where works are carried out to maintain the health and prolong the life of the trees. This does not include felling or dead wooding.

Trees affected by development will not be eligible for a grant. 

Funding

The grant covers the cost of:

  • up to 50% of approved works
  • a maximum of £75 per tree
  • £500 per application

The tree officer will inspect the tree on completion of the work and arrange for the grant to be paid if the work is satisfactory.

Report works without permission

You can email planningenforcement@southglos.gov.uk if you suspect someone has carried out work on a tree with a tree preservation order and we will investigate.

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