Trees and woodland

What is a tree preservation order (TPO)?

It is an order made by a local planning authority (LPA) in respect of trees or woodlands. The LPA in Pendle is Pendle Borough Council at Nelson Town Hall. Tree felling may also require a felling licence from the Forestry Commission.

You can now view the location of TPOs on our new interactive map. The information displayed on this map shows the extent of trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Please note that although the interactive map it is based upon the register, it is not the legal document and is supplied for information purposes only. 

The principal effect of a TPO is to prevent the:

  • cutting down
  • uprooting
  • topping
  • lopping
  • wilful damage, or
  • wilful destruction

of trees without our consent. Cutting of roots is also potentially damaging so also requires our consent.

The legal bit

The law on TPOs is covered in the following Acts and Regulations:

  • Part VIII of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ('the Act') 
  • The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation)(England) Regulations 2012 ('the 2012 Regulations') which came into force on 6 April 2012.
  • The Town and Country Planning (Determination of Appeals by Appointed Persons) (Prescribed Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2008 which came into force on 6 April 2008.  

Trees and Woodlands

A TPO protects trees and woodlands. Any tree of any size can be included in a TPO but it must meet certain criteria.


A TPO can only be used to protect trees and cannot be applied to bushes or shrubs. A TPO can be made to protect trees in hedges or an old hedge which has become a line of trees of a reasonable height and which is not subject to hedgerow management. Separate legislation is in place to regulate the removal of hedgerows.

Power To Make A TPO

We can make a TPO if we think it is:

expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the preservation of trees or woodlands in their area.


TPOs should be used to protect selected trees and woodlands if their removal would have a significant impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public. When making a TPO, we assess 'amenity value' taking into account the following key criteria:

  • visibility: the extent to which the trees or woodlands can be seen by the general public will inform the Council's assessment of whether its impact on the local environment is significant. If they cannot be seen or are just barely visible from a public place, a TPO might only be justified in exceptional circumstances;
  • individual impact: the mere fact that a tree is publicly visible will not itself be sufficient to warrant a TPO. The Council should also assess the trees particular importance by reference to its size and form, its future potential as an amenity, taking into account any special factors such as its rarity, value as a screen or contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area. In relation to a group of trees or woodland, an assessment should be made of its collective impact;
  • wider impact: the significance of the trees in their local surroundings should also be assessed, taking into account how suitable they are to their particular setting, as well as the presence of other trees in the vicinity


Although a tree may merit protection on amenity grounds it may not be expedient to make it the subject of a TPO. For example, it is unlikely to be expedient to make a TPO in respect of trees which are under good arboricultural or silvicultural management.

It may be expedient to make a TPO if we think there is a risk of the tree being cut down or pruned in ways which would have a significant impact on the amenity of the area.


Dead and Dangerous Trees

Our consent is not required for cutting down or carrying out work on trees which are dead or have become dangerous. This exemption allows the removal of dead wood from a tree or the removal of dangerous branches from an otherwise sound tree. If a tree outside a woodland is removed under this exemption, section 206 of the Act places the landowner under a duty to plant a replacement tree at the same place. 

Anyone proposing to cut down a tree under this exemption is advised to give us five days notice (Section 198) in writing before carrying out the work, except in an emergency. Anyone who is not sure whether the tree falls within the exemption is advised to obtain the advice of an arboriculturist or contact the Conservation team.

If work is carried out on a protected tree under this exemption (or any of the other exemptions), the burden of proof to show that the tree was dead or dangerous rests with the defendant.

Planning Permission

Our consent is not required for cutting down or carrying out work on trees if required to implement a full planning permission. For example, the TPO is overridden if a tree has to be removed to make way for a new building for which full planning permission has been granted.

The exemption is limited. If only outline planning permission has been granted, our consent under the TPO is still required before cutting down or carrying out work on protected trees.

Our consent is also required before cutting down or carrying out work on trees to implement permitted development rights under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. Anyone relying on permitted development rights, for example, to build an extension or put up a garden shed would have to obtain our consent under the TPO if it was necessary in the process to cut down or carry out work on a protected tree, or if the development was likely to affect the tree, for example by excavation or changes of levels.

Trees and Environment

Tel: 01282 661333