Tree Preservation Orders – what is a Tree?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is given by local planning authorities to protect trees and woodlands. The local authorities give the order in the interests of amenity, and they have been given the powers by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947.

It is very important to check whether there is a TPO in force when considering any development works which involve the clearance of any greenery. If there is a TPO, then consent will be required from the local planning authority.

The issue of what constitutes a tree has recently been decided by the High Court:

A developer wished to carry out preparatory works involving the clearance of scrub and saplings on land which was subject to a woodland TPO. The local authority refused consent, despite the developer’s claims that a trees did not include saplings.

The High Court ruled that there is no statutory definition of a tree, and it held that there is no limitation on the age or size of trees for the purposes of a TPO. Therefore, the court decided, that saplings are also protected by the TPO, even though they may not have existed at the date of the Order.

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