Tree legislation

Legislation - Trees

There is a plethora of rules and regulations surrounding the ownership and management of trees, woodlands and forests across the UK.

ADAS has a team of arboriculturists and Chartered Foresters who have a working knowledge of these legislations, as well as experience of liaising with the statutory bodies who are responsible for administering them.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) are probably the most commonly known method of protecting our trees and woodlands, and thereby controlling how we manage them; along with Conservation Areas and Felling Licenses.

A summary of each is provided in the table below.

Title Summary

Tree Preservation Orders

  • 8-week application;
  • Requires permission from the Local Planning Authority (LPA) before work can proceed;
  • Any permission is likely to be subject to conditions;
  • Some exceptions apply;
  • Can appeal the LPA’s decision.

Conservation Area

  • 6-week notification to LPA;
  • Work can proceed either 1) upon receipt of approval letter from LPA within 6-week period, or 2) after 6-week period has lapsed, with or without notification from the LPA;
  • LPA can only prevent work proceeding by protected the tree(s) with a TPO;
  • Some exceptions apply.

Felling Licence

  • A felling licence is generally required from the Forestry Commission if felling more than 5m3 of timber in a single calendar quarter;
  • Restocking condition likely;
  • Some exemptions apply;
  • Can appeal refusal or restocking conditions.


It is important that a tree owner or person undertaking a tree survey or seeking to carry out works to amenity trees undertakes a check with the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to ascertain whether a tree or woodland is protected by a TPO or situated within a Conservation Area. Ignorance cannot be used as a defence, and contravening these legislations could result in a fine of up to £20,000 per offence in a Magistrates Court or unlimited if indicted in a Crown Court. Our Arboriculture team would be happy to undertake these checks for you.

Likewise, if you are planning on felling a number of trees on your land (and they don’t necessarily need to be in a woodland or forest), you should check with your local Forestry Commission office to ascertain whether you need to apply for a felling licence; even one large tree could exceed 5m3. Again, our Forestry Consultants will be able to help with this matter, as well as offering a full Forestry Management service.

Tree owners should also be mindful that, even if there is no specific legislation protecting the tree, anyone working on trees must consider the wildlife that could be using the tree, such as nesting birds or bats, both of which are protected. ADAS has an Ecology team that would be able to provide further information and guidance if needed.

Our Services include:

  • Prepare and submit TPO / Conservation Area applications / notifications.
  • Assist with appealing an LPA decision either against the serving of a TPO or tree work application.
  • Prepare and submit felling licence applications or woodland management plans that encompass felling approvals.
  • Services for LPAs:
    • TPO Reviews
    • Assessment of appropriateness and enforceability of whether a TPO should be made.

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