Why Tree Preservation Orders are made
The purpose of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is to protect trees that are significant to their local surroundings.
An order can be made by the council which makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree without the planning authority’s permission.
All types of trees can be protected and a preservation order can cover anything from a single tree to a whole woodland.
Once confirmed, a TPO remains in force permanently.
You can find further information on the GOV.UK website.
How to check whether a tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order
You can search for Tree Preservation Orders in the former district areas using the online searches below.
Permission to cut down or carry out work to my or my neighbour's tree
You must make an application for most tree works if the tree is subject to a TPO . We will let you know the decision within eight weeks. If the tree is in a Conservation Area you are required to give Somerset Council 6 weeks prior notice to allow us to assess the proposed works and to determine if the tree is worthy of a TPO .
In very few circumstances, permission to carry out works is not needed. If you are cutting down a tree that is a safety risk, has already been approved as part of your planning permission or because of a legal nuisance or statutory obligation, you need to give us at least 5 days written notice.
Threats to protected trees
If there is an immediate threat to a tree, call us on 0300 123 2224.
We would describe an immediate threat as something happening right now (or about to happen in the immediate future) that is a danger to a tree.
If the council are not available (for example, it is a weekend or bank holiday), please report the matter to the local Police on 101.
If you are worried that a protected tree has already been subjected to unauthorised works, report it as a Planning Breach.
How to apply to protect a tree
Serving Tree Preservation Orders can be costly to the tax-payer, so we endeavour to act responsibly. We will not usually serve an Order upon trees that:
- could be easily replaced with new plantings
- are short-lived, near the end of their natural life-cycle or could cause an unreasonable nuisance to adjoining residents
- are located too close to built-structure and seem likely to cause damage or an unreasonable nuisance as they grow
- are dying, dead or dangerous
- do not offer ‘perceived visual amenity’, for example, they are located discreetly within a back garden that cannot be seen from a public place or the wider landscape
- are not considered likely to be under threat from possible removal or unsympathetic treatment
You can request a Tree Preservation Order by contacting us. If you live in the former Mendip District you can apply online.
The council will deal with your request in confidence, so please help us by providing as much of the following information as you can:
- an accurate description of the location of the trees – if they are not within a property address, including an address nearby can help us to pinpoint where and what they are – species, ages, numbers, a location plan and photographs are most helpful
- describe the nature of the threat, for example possible future development
- explain why you think the trees should be protected
If you know who the trees belong to, it can to speed the process up if you are able to provide us with the landowner’s name, address and any contact details.
I own a tree with a preservation order
It is the landowner’s responsibility to do all that is reasonable to ensure that their trees are healthy and safe. This is a “Duty of Care” under Common Law.
The council’s Tree Officer cannot inspect privately owned trees.
The National Tree Safety Group provides guidance on how to maintain the safety of trees responsibly. If you are planning to carry out works to a protected tree, we recommend that you get professional advice from an arborist or tree surgeon first. For more information and advice, visit the Arboricultural Association website.