Protected Trees and Tree Preservation Orders

What is a Tree Preservation Order?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a written order made by a local planning authority which, in general, makes it an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by that order without the authority’s permission. A TPO can cover any individual tree, groups of trees and woodland areas. Hedges are not covered by TPO legislation. Within Wealden there are a large number of trees and woodlands that are protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPO).  These trees may have been threatened in the past or be of high amenity value and afforded special protection.  A TPO prohibits work being carried out to a protected tree without consent from the council.  It also makes it an offence to wilfully damage or destroy a protected tree. If you wish to carry out work to TPO trees you will need to get consent from the Council, application forms are available to download in the Trees and Hedges section on our application forms web page.  Further details of the TPO system in the United Kingdom can be found on the Planning Portal (external link)  additional guidance on TPOs is available from the Government website (external link).

How can I find if a tree has a TPO?

If you wish to find out if a tree has a Preservation Order on it, you should contact the planning department by emailing  Copies of TPOs are available and these can either be emailed as PDF attachment documents or sent by post for a modest fee. If you wish to look up the details of a tree with a TPO and you know the TPO number, you can search our planning database using the advanced search and the TPO number.
If you would like the Council to consider a tree for a TPO please contact the planning department with details of the tree, why you think it is important and why you think it might be under threat. Anyone can ask for a tree, trees or woodland to be protected under TPO legislation however, in most circumstances TPOs are only issued where there is a clear threat and it is expedient to do so. We would then assess the tree or woodland using industry recognised methods for evaluation. If the tree or woodland scores highly enough and it is appropriate to do so, a TPO may be issued. We have produced a useful document describing this process –Making Tree Preservation Orders
A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. All trees within the designated Conservation Areas of Wealden are automatically protected and controls similar to TPO trees apply.  If you wish to carry out work to trees that are in a Conservation Area you will need to get consent from the Council.  Details of the locations of the Conservation areas can be found on the Conservation Areas web page. Application forms for works to Trees within a Conservation area can be downloaded from our Application Forms page within the Trees and Hedgerows section. Additional government guidance on Trees within a Conservation Area (external link). Find out where the Conservation Areas are using Wealden’s online mapping system. To search please enter the address or postcode in the centre box, then click on Local Knowledge on the menu bar on the top left hand corner of the page. One of the information boxes as you scroll down tells you if you are in a Conservation Area. You can also check whether Trees are in a Conservation Area by emailing

If you believe unauthorised works are taking place to a tree with a TPO or to trees within a Conservation Area you can consult our online register of applications and decisions or contact the Planning Department by emailing or in an emergency during office hours by telephoning 01892 653311.

Unless work is urgently necessary because there is an immediate risk of serious harm, five working days prior written notice must be given to the authority before cutting down or carrying out other work on a dead tree.
Where a tree presents an immediate risk of serious harm and work is urgently needed to remove that risk, tree owners or their agents must give written notice to the authority as soon as practicable after that work becomes necessary. Work should only be carried out to the extent that it is necessary to remove the risk and/or make the tree safe.  Any additional work must be agreed through the tree work application process.

Anyone wishing to cut down trees containing more than five cubic metres of wood in any calendar quarter (except in gardens) are required to obtain a felling licence. Five cubic metres is roughly equivalent to one large oak tree or 50 thin chestnut coppice trees. Felling Licences are issued by the Forestry Commission and applicants should note that there is almost always a requirement to restock felled trees and licences are not normally granted to change woodland to agricultural use. Further details of this process can be obtained by contacting Forestry Commission (external link).

The authority’s consent is not required in certain circumstances for work carried out by, or at the request of, those statutory undertakers listed in the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 (external link). These statutory undertakers, or contractors working at their request, are advised to liaise with local authorities prior to carrying out work to trees protected by an Order. It is expected that all vegetation control is carried out in accordance with best arboricultural practice. They should also take care to not contravene the provisions of legislation protecting plants and wildlife.