Changes to Tree Preservation Order Regulations

The Planning Portal announced today:

Revised tree preservation regime finalised

The new Tree Preservation Order (TPO) regime for England involves two key
changes from the proposals for more streamlined and consolidated arrangements
consulted on two years ago, the Department for Communities and Local Government
(DCLG) has announced.

First, the Government has decided to increase the default period for the
duration of consents for work on trees from one year to two.

“This will increase flexibility for tree owners and make it consistent with
the existing period for notified work to trees in conservation areas. It remains
open to the local authority to vary this period if appropriate by use of
conditions,” explained the department.

Second, DCLG has determined that there should be a requirement for a tree
owner other than a statutory undertaker to give written prior notice to the
local authority of their intention to carry out works authorised by an
exemption, unless there was imminent danger.

“This requirement was present in pre-1999 TPOs and recommended in guidance.
The prior notice (by e-mail or letter) will not be onerous and will provide the
local authority involved with an opportunity to require a full application if
there was doubt the exemption applied, and therefore potentially may avoid
litigation,” said DCLG.

The TPO system provides the principal regulatory means for protecting trees.
Local planning authorities make and manage TPOs which prohibit the cutting down,
uprooting, topping, lopping, willful destruction or willful damage of protected
trees without an authority’s consent.

The revised arrangements are designed to create a consolidated system that
would apply to all orders by:

  • replacing the Town and Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999 (No.1982)
    (the “1999 Regulations”) so far as they relate to England
  • replacing the Town and Country Planning (Trees) (Amendment) (England)
    Regulations 2008 (No.2260) and the Town and Country Planning (Trees) (Amendment
    No.2) (England) Regulations (No.3202) (the “2008 Regulations”)
  • reducing the size of all existing and future tree preservation orders by
    retaining only the information that identifies the trees protected
  • moving subsections 198(3), (4), (6), (8) and (9), and sections 199, 201,
    203-205 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the Act”) to the new

The new regime also includes a new model order. The new regulations, entitled
the Town and County Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012,
have been laid before Parliament.”