Trees and woodland

Trees in conservation areas

Trees in conservation areas which are already protected by a TPO are subject to the normal TPO controls. But the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 also makes special provision for trees in conservation areas which are not the subject of a TPO. Under section 211 of the Act, anyone proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a conservation area is required to give us six weeks prior written notice (a 'section 211 notice'). The purpose of this requirement is to give us an opportunity to consider whether a TPO should be made in respect of the tree.

Is your tree in a Conservation Area?

You can use the new interactive map to see if your tree is located within a conservation area. 

Giving Notice

A section 211 notice must describe, in writing, the work proposed and include sufficient information to identify the trees. The Council can provide a form if this helps, but a letter providing the necessary information is perfectly acceptable.

It is important that the notice sets out clearly what work is proposed. This should be straightforward if the proposal is to fell a tree, as long as the tree is clearly identified. But if the proposal is to prune a tree, the notice should clarify exactly what work is to be carried out. A proposal simply to 'top' the tree or to 'lop' or 'cut back' some branches is too vague because it fails to describe the extent of the work. The guidance notes for TPO application may help with this.

Applicants are advised not to submit a section 211 notice until they are in a position to present a clear proposal. They should consider discussing their ideas with an arboriculturist or the tree officer of the Council.

If we receive a vague section 211 notice we are advised to refer back to the person who submitted it. Any clarification of the proposal should be confirmed in writing, either by modifying the original notice or withdrawing it and submitting a new one.

Exemptions

You do not have to give us six weeks notice:

  • for cutting down trees in accordance with a felling licence granted by the Forestry Commission or a plan of operations approved by the Commission under one of their grant schemes,
  • for work which is exempt from the requirement to apply for consent under a TPO,
  • for work carried out by, or on behalf of, the LPA (i.e. the Council as a whole and not just its planning department),
  • for work on a tree with a diameter not exceeding 75 millimetres (or 100 millimetres if cutting down trees to improve the growth of other trees, ie thinning operations).

Penalties

Anyone who cuts down, uproots, tops, lops, wilfully destroys or wilfully damages a tree in a conservation area without giving a section 211 notice is guilty of an offence.

The same penalties as those for contravening a TPO apply. For example, anyone who cuts down a tree in a conservation area without giving a section 211 notice is liable, to a fine of up to £20,000.

Anyone who carries out work in a way that is not likely to destroy the tree is liable to a fine in the Magistrates Court of up to £2,500. 

The defendant may claim that the work was permitted under one of the statutory exemptions.  If so, the burden of proof is placed on the defendant.