Giving legal protection to trees
Tree Preservation Orders are issued to give legal protection to trees or woodland. We explain here what Tree Preservation Orders are. This includes how they are issued and what action is needed before carrying out work to trees with this protection.
A Tree Preservation Order is made by the council, giving legal protection to trees or woodland. They prevent trees being cut down, uprooted, topped, lopped, wilfully damaged or destroyed, including cutting roots, without our permission. Their purpose is to protect trees for the public to enjoy. Trees given such protection should normally be seen from a public place except in exceptional circumstances.
Anything that would normally be considered a tree may be covered by a Tree Preservation Order. Bushes and shrubs cannot be protected though. There are no minimum size requirements. In certain circumstances, fruit trees can also be protected provided they offer reasonable public amenity.
We keep a record of all Tree Preservation Orders in the borough.
You must state the reasons why it is important to protect a particular tree.
We will consider requests for Tree Preservation Orders against three main criteria:
- the extent to which the tree(s) can be seen by the general public
- the tree’s importance in terms of its size, form, how rare it is or screening value. We also take into account how it adds to the character or appearance of a conservation area
- the significance of the tree(s) where it is sited and the wider impact on the environment
We can also make a Tree Preservation Order as a precaution. This is if there is reason to believe that the tree could be at risk in the future.
We don't normally consider it necessary to make Tree Preservation Orders for trees already under a recognised tree management programme. This includes street trees managed by Camden's arboricultural team or trees and woodland on Hampstead Heath managed by the City of London.
If you plan to cut down or prune a tree on or around your property, you should check whether it is protected by a Tree Preservation Order. This is before carrying out any work, even if it is emergency work to a dead or dying tree.
You will also need to tell us if you intend to carry out work on a tree in conservation area.
If a protected tree is damaged and/or destroyed without our permission, the owner or person carrying out the work may be prosecuted and fined up to £20,000. A replacement tree may also have to be planted.
If you suspect that works are being done without permission on a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order, report this to us immediately.
The Arboricultural Association is the professional body for the tree work industry. The association has a registered tree contractor/consultant scheme. It contains companies who have been vetted and are monitored by the association.
If you choose to use a tree work contractor not approved by the Arboricultural Association, you should check that:
- the company has the appropriate level of third party and public liability insurance
- they are qualified for the work to be carried out.
Any reputable tree work contractor/consultant will be happy to provide the above information.