How to Work on a Protected Tree


Red-handled axe in a block of wood. Text reads "A tree surgeon's guide to protected trees"

We see a lot of unwanted and out-of-control trees. And unsurprisingly, we hear many worried clients say they don’t know what to do about their tree because it’s protected. Myths and urban legends have grown up around tree restriction legislation to the extent where many people fear tree-related work is bound to involve huge amounts of red-tape and heartache. But we’re pleased to tell you this just isn’t the case.

The easy way to deal with tree legislation

As experienced tree surgeons, we’ve dealt with Tree Preservation Orders and similar restrictions for years and have become experts at dealing with the red-tape. Our clients just have to tell us which tree they want us to work on, and can then relax and get on with their lives.

If there’s a good reason for a tree to be removed or altered, protection legislation shouldn’t prevent the work. Restrictions and protection orders simply mean you need to ask permission before starting work. A good tree surgeon (such as Brackendale Tree Care!) will help you put a good case forwards for carrying out your planned work.

It’s helpful to know that “work” on a tree is classified as cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or wilful destruction of a tree. Even removing overhanging branches is included as “work”, so it’s important to check whether a tree is protected before you get out your loppers.  Anyone found guilty of ignoring a restriction may suffer criminal penalties; ignore the laws at your peril!

What sort of tree restrictions exist?

There are four main types of tree restrictions

  1. Tree Preservation Orders

To work on a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order, you must submit a form to the local council. This must include exact drawings of your planned work. You must allow 8 weeks from your submission to hear of approval or otherwise.

  1. Conservation Orders

If you are planning work in a conservation area, then simply submit your notice of works and wait 6 weeks to hear any objections. If no objections are made within this period, you are free to carry out your described works.

  1. Restrictions on new developments

If you live in a new development, you may be subject to limitations about tree or hedge removal. New development restrictions require an in-depth submission which typically takes 10 weeks for approval.

  1. Covenants

These will be detailed in your property deeds and may limit the property owner to whether and hedges can be removed without being replaced.  They may also restrict the height and spread of trees and hedges. Take the time to familiarise yourself with your obligations within your property deeds.

Let Brackendale make things easier for you

Give Brackendale Tree Care a call and we’ll take care of the entire project. We’ll visit your property and agree on the work to be done and then complete and submit the necessary forms and liaise directly with the council or other relevant body to help progress your submission. You simply need to say which tree you want us to work on and agree the work to be carried out.

Call us or send us an email and we’ll give you a no-obligation quote and help you with any questions.