What are ‘trees with preservation orders’?

Tree preservation orders – unless you’ve come across one of these in your work or as a homeowner, it’s unlikely you know what they are.


What is a Tree Preservation Order?

In a few words, a TPO (Tree Preservation Order) is exactly that. It’s an order to preserve or to protect a tree. It makes the felling, pruning, reducing, thinning or damaging in any way illegal. These orders can be placed on an individual tree, a group of trees, an area or a woodland. It means that no work can be carried out on the preserve trees or woodland without specific approval from the local council and it’s against the law to cut down or damage a tree with a TPO.

Anyone can request to get a TPO placed on a tree, and the reasons for are varied. The council isn’t legally required to place tree preservation orders for any particular reason. It’s down to their direction whether one should be granted. It might be to protect an area of land, which would prevent housing developments. It could be to protect an extremely old, or rare tree for amenity value. Or it could be to do with the environmental impact on the wildlife that the trees support.

Tree with preservation order

How long does a tree preservation order last?

Each council will vary in their time frame to approve a TPO application. Carlisle city council takes 6 weeks to consider and make a decision. Once the tree preservation order is approved by the local authorities, the initial term lasts for six months. Within that time frame, objection to the TPO can be raised by anyone affected or living locally. After the six months is up, if the order is not retracted it becomes a permanent protection order.

Tree preservation orders are rarely reversed and even when they are it can be a long process to get that order removed.   

Check if your tree has a preservation order in Cumbria

If you’re wondering about a local tree or a tree in your garden and whether it has been protected by a TPO, you’re able to check this online. In Carlisle, you can check on the government websites map here – enter in your postcode and it will show all the TPOs, amongst other thing nearby. If you’re in the Lake District, their council also has map of protected trees. For all other areas of Cumbria, pop your postcode in the Government website and it’ll direct you to your local TPO map finder.

Tree Inspector

How to beat a tree preservation order

Removal of a TPO is very rare so ask yourself why you’re requesting the order to be removed. The order would have been requested and approved in the first place for a reason, so consider that against why you’re asking it to be removed before making the request.

However, is it possible to carry out work on a tree that has a tree preservation order, you must just get approval first from the local council before any work commences. It must be deemed necessary and appropriate by the relevant local authority, and they will often carry out a site inspection as part of the decision process.

Carlisle’s city council need a minimum of six weeks’ notice, but it can take longer to gain approval, up to 20 weeks. It is a legal offence to damage or destroy a tree with a TPO and can incur a serious fine so you must wait for their inspection to happen before carrying out any work.

if the tree is sick or dying, or you have other concerns about the tree, we recommend bringing in a qualified arborist to inspect and analyse your TPO tree and discuss the best course of action. They will have the skills to do the work within the bounds of the tree perseveration order.


Written by local arborist Andrew Edgar [Orchard Tree Surgery and Maintenance].


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