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Tree preservation orders - frequently asked questions (FAQ)

  • 1. What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

    ​Section 198 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 gives the local planning authority powers to make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to protect trees and woodlands, when it is expedient in the interests of amenity.

    A TPO prohibits the cutting down, lopping, topping, uprooting, wilful damage or destruction of the tree(s) without the consent of the local planning authority.
    For a comprehensive guide see:

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  • 2. What is the purpose of a TPO?

    ​To protect trees for the public's enjoyment which is particularly important where trees are in immediate danger of being cut down.

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  • 3. How can I check if a tree has a TPO?

    ​If you are not sure whether a tree on your property is covered by a TPO, or if you live in a Conservation Area, please contact Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000 and ask for the Tree Preservation Officer or the Duty Planning Officer.

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  • 4. What if a tree is protected by a TPO and I wish to carry out work?

    ​You should apply through the Planning Portal or alternatively download:


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  • 5. What is the process once I have submitted an application?

    ​The Council will carefully consider your application to carry out proposed work in relation to trees and their setting by completing an inspection of the tree(s) to check their condition normally within three to four weeks. If we approve the work we will issue a consent notice. If we do not approve the work we will issue a refusal notice. The determination process generally takes eight weeks from the time the application has been submitted.

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  • 6. What happens if I carry out work to a protected tree without permission?

    ​If you deliberately destroy a tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £20,000 if convicted in the magistrates’ court. In determining the amount of the fine, the court will take account of any financial benefit arising from the offence. For other offences you could be fined up to £2,500.

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  • 7. In what circumstances would I not need permission to work on a protected tree?

    ​In an emergency you are advised to give your local planning authority at least five days’ notice before you cut down a protected tree which is dying, dead or dangerous by contacting Waltham Forest Direct on 020 8496 3000. This is in your interests – you could be prosecuted if the Council thinks you have carried out unauthorised work. It could also decide that you do not have to plant a replacement tree. You must remember, however, that you will remain responsible for your trees and any damage they may cause.

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  • 8. Who can carry out work on protected trees?

    ​Tree work is a highly skilled job. Arborists (or tree surgeons) who complete tree work should be adequately certificated for the operation they are undertaking, also fully insured and ideally a member of a recognised professional body such as the Arboricultural Association. See Arboricultural Association

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  • 9. What if a tree is situated in a Conservation Area?

    If a tree is not protected by a TPO but is in a conservation area, you must give six weeks notification of intent notice to carry out any works to the tree under Section 211 of the Town and Country Planning Act. This only applies to trees that are more than 7.5cm in diameter (or 10cm if the tree is part of a group of trees), measured 1.5metres above the ground. It is an offence to do work to a tree in a conservation area without consent. The Council will respond to a notification within six weeks.
    You should apply through the Planning Portal or alternatively download:

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