Some Trees and woodland are protected by:
- A Tree preservation order (TPO)
- Being in a Conservation Area
It is an offence to carry out works to a protected tree, or remove it, without the approval of the council. If you do, you could be prosecuted and fined. If a tree is removed or destroyed, you may also be required to plant a replacement. You should check to see whether a tree is protected before carrying out works. Using My Maps you can check if a tree is protected. To do this:
- go to the area you are investigating;
- Select 'Planning Constraints';
- tick 'TPO - Area', 'TPO - Individual' and 'Conservation Area'.
There are some exceptions for trees that are dead or dangerous.
- Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
- Protected trees in a conservation area
- Dead or dangerous trees
- Request a new TPO
- Woodland management
- Tree on an application site
- Request pre-application advice
- View planning applications
- Planning enforcement
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by a Local Planning Authority. The order protects a tree, or trees within a particular area, group or woodland because of its beauty, special contribution made to the landscape or street scene, or because of some other special quality, such as rarity or historic significance.
The order will specify the location and species covered and the properties affected. The order covers the roots of the tree as well as the parts of the tree that can be seen above ground level.
An order prohibits the following works to trees, unless consent has been granted:
- cutting down
- wilful damage
- wilful destruction
Dead wooding a tree or removing damaged limbs (hangers) does not need formal consent.
Details of how to submit an application are available on the Planning Portal.
All trees of a certain size that lie within a conservation area are protected. The local planning authority must be notified 6 weeks before carrying out certain work on such trees. This notice period gives the authority an opportunity to consider whether to place a TPO on the tree.
Works and trees covered by this restriction are:
- the cutting down, topping or lopping or uprooting of a tree whose diameter exceeds 75 millimetres
- the cutting down or uprooting of a tree, whose diameter exceeds 100 millimetres
The diameter of the tree should be measured over the bark of the tree at 1.5 metres above ground level.
The work may go ahead before the end of the 6 week period if the local planning authority gives consent.
Works to a protected tree or tree covered by a TPO, or works to part of such a tree, which is dead or dangerous do not need the council's consent. However, if you want carry out such work to a protected tree or a tree covered by a TPO, you must tell the local planning authority in writing first. In an emergency, allow five working days for the council to decide if the work is exempt.
Please note that there is no need to contact the council before carrying out works to a dead or dangerous tree if the tree is not a protected tree within a conservation area or covered by a TPO.
If you are concerned about a dead or dangerous tree within the public highway you will need to contact West Sussex County Council.
Even if an application is not needed, you should check if other regulations apply. For example, you must consult Natural England if the tree supports a bat roost.
Serious risk may include disease or damage to the tree. One consideration would be to look at what is likely to happen, such as injury to a passing pedestrian. If the danger is not immediate the tree does not come within the meaning of the exception.
If a tree is removed under the 'dead and dangerous' rules a replacement tree must be planted. The replacement tree must be of an appropriate size and species.
If you think a tree should be protected by a TPO please submit a request. Use the form to provide details of the tree and why you think an order is needed.
A TPO can only be made for trees, groups of trees, or woodlands if the council considers it would be expedient in the interests of amenity. TPO's should be used to protect trees and woodlands if their removal would have a significant negative impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public.
When assessing the amenity value of trees the council can consider the following:
Visibility - The trees should be visible from a public place, such as a road or footpath, or accessible by the public.
Individual, collective and wider impact - It is not enough to be visible. The importance of the tree(s) and the following characteristics should be considered:
- size and form;
- future potential as an amenity;
- rarity, cultural or historic value;
- contribution to, and relationship with, the landscape; and
- contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area.
Other factors - Importance to nature conservation or climate change can be considered. These factors alone would not warrant making an Order.
The process is set out in this flowchart.
To protect Britain's trees and woodland, a felling licence from the Forestry Commission is required to fell most trees. It is an offence to fell trees without a licence if an exemption does not apply. More information can be found on both the Forestry Commission and Government websites:
- Apply for a felling licence - Forestry Commission
- Tree felling licence when you need to apply - Gov.uk
- Tree felling overview - Gov.uk
When granting planning permission planning authorities use conditions to preserve trees and planting. New TPOs will be made if necessary in connection with a planning permission.
If you have any protected trees on an application site you are encouraged to keep them. If you want to remove a tree you will need to submit a tree report which shows that the tree is not worthy of retention. Details of the information required with a planning application is in the Local List.
If the removal of a protected tree is necessary to build a development consent for works to trees is not needed. The loss of the tree would be considered as part of the application. If the protected trees would not be directly affected by the development consent for works to trees would be needed.
- Please see the council's FAQ's document for commonly asked questions and more advice.
- Further information is available within the Planning Practice Guidance.
- For information about works to trees on the public highway contact West Sussex County Council.
The Planning Inspectorate
Natural England - Lewes Office