Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs): Checking, Applying, and Penalties


28th August 2023 | Danny

If you own a tree or are a tree surgeon planning to work on a tree that a TPO might protect, It’s essential to understand the process of checking for TPOs, applying for permission to work on TPO-protected trees and the penalties for not adhering to the proper channels.

Checking for TPOs

If you need clarification on whether a tree has a TPO, you can verify it with your local planning authority. Many councils have online databases that allow you to search for TPO-protected trees in your area. Alternatively, you can contact your local council’s tree officer or the equivalent authority to inquire about the TPO status of a tree.
You can find out who your local planning authority is here [ ]

Applying for Permission to Work on a TPO-Protected Tree

If you discover that a TPO protects a tree, you’ll need to obtain permission from the local planning authority before carrying out any work on the tree. This includes actions such as pruning, maintenance, felling, or removal.
To apply for permission, you must submit a formal application to your local council via the planning portal [ ]. The application should include details about the proposed work, the reason, and supporting evidence demonstrating the need. You must also submit a sketch plan showing where the tree is located. Other information to include in your application will include:

  • Address of the tree
  • Grid reference
  • Easting/Northing
  • TPO reference number (if Known)
  • Tree species
  • Details of intended works
    Reasons for the works (reasonable Arboricultural justification is often required, e.g. If you want to remove the tree, then a solid reason such as ill health or poor physical condition. An Arboricultural tree report or survey may also be required to supply evidence to the local authority to confirm the issues the tree may have)

You can find the grid reference and Easting/Northing here [ ]
Applying for permission ahead of time is essential, as processing times can vary. The council is required to respond within eight weeks of receiving your application. If your application is approved, you can proceed with the work. However, you can appeal the decision within 28 days if your application is denied.

What are the penalties for working on a TPO tree without permission?

Performing work on a TPO-protected tree without obtaining the necessary permission can result in severe consequences. The local planning authority can prosecute anyone who fails to obtain permission or violates the terms of a granted permission. Fines can range from £2,500 to £20,000 and, in some circumstances, higher, depending on the severity of the offence.


When planning to work on a tree that a TPO might protect, following the proper channels is crucial to avoid any penalties. Always check for TPOs with your local planning authority and apply for permission before working on a TPO-protected tree. Remember, adhering to the regulations surrounding TPOs not only helps you avoid fines but also contributes to preserving valuable trees in our environment.

For more guidance on TPO, visit

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult a le
gal professional or your local planning authority when dealing with Tree Preservation Orders matters.