How To Beat a Tree Preservation Order.

A Tree Preservation Order can be beat, by gaining permission from your local council to carry out works. Make sure you have good reasons to challenge a TPO, such as the tree’s are a risk to properties and human lives, changes in property ownership, trees are causing serious health issues such as allergies etc. In this article, we’ll break down the steps you need to follow and provide you with easy tips to tackle TPOs effectively. From understanding the rules to collecting evidence for your case, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re dealing with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that’s standing in the way of your plans, don’t worry! We’re here to help you understand how to handle it like a pro. Whether you’re a homeowner, developer, or project manager, knowing about TPOs is essential to overcome any challenges.

What’s a Tree Preservation Order(TPO)?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is like a rule that protects certain special trees or woodlands. These rules say that you can’t cut down, trim, or change these trees in any way without asking your local council first. TPOs are used to keep important trees safe, like those that make our environment better and provide homes for animals.

Applying for permission from local council for a Tree Preservation order(TPO)

If you want to do something with a tree that has a TPO, you need permission from your local council. First, you have to fill out a form, which you can find on the website. Before sending the form, make sure you have good reasons to challenge the TPO.

If the need arises to carry out work on a tree protected by a TPO, approval must be obtained from the local council before commencing any activities. The work must be deemed necessary and suitable by the relevant local authority. Frequently, they will conduct a site inspection as part of their decision-making process.

Durham Council, for instance, necessitates a minimum notice period of six weeks, although the approval process may extend up to 20 weeks. It is crucial to acknowledge that causing damage or destruction to a TPO-protected tree constitutes a legal offense, carrying the potential for significant fines. Therefore, it is imperative to await the council’s inspection before embarking on any tree-related work.

Dealing with Overhanging Branches

Sometimes, branches from your neighbor’s tree can be annoying, but there are no rules that force them to cut these branches. However, you can trim branches that hang over your property, but only up to the boundary line. Be sure to check if that tree has a TPO.

How to challenge a Tree Preservation Order

People often challenge TPOs for different reasons. Here are some common ones:

  1. Wrong or Old Information: Sometimes, TPOs are based on old or wrong information about the trees. You can research and find mistakes to challenge the TPO.
  2. Money Matters: If a TPO affects your property’s value or stops a project that could help the community, you might have a good reason to challenge it.
  3. Safety First: TPOs protect trees, but they shouldn’t put people or buildings in danger. If a tree is unsafe, you can challenge the TPO to keep everyone safe.
  4. Sick Trees: Trees can get sick or damaged over time. If you can show that a tree is very sick, you may be able to remove it safely.
  5. Trees in the Wrong Place: If a tree is blocking roads, paths, or lamp posts, you can challenge the TPO. The council usually wants a certain amount of space around these things.
  6. Health Problems: If a tree is making someone very sick because of allergies, you can challenge the TPO with a doctor’s note.

Gathering Proof for your case

When you want to challenge a TPO, you need proof to show why it should be changed. This proof can be photos, experts’ opinions, surveys, or other papers. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Be Specific: Write down exactly why you want to change the TPO. Take photos from different angles and make notes to explain your reasons.
  2. Ask Experts: Talk to a tree expert or an arborist surveyor. They can help you understand the trees better and make your case stronger.
  3. Look at Documents: Check the papers about the TPO. If you find mistakes or missing things, it can help your case.

Applying to Change A Tree Preservation Order

Once you have all your proof, you need to send a request to the council to change the TPO. Here’s what to do:

  1. Get Expert Advice: Talk to a tree expert. They know a lot and can help you make your request correctly.
  2. Write a Good Explanation: Write a letter that explains why you want to change the TPO. Use your proof to make your case strong.
  3. Send Your Request: Follow the rules the council gives you to send your request. Don’t forget to send all your papers and meet any deadlines.

If your request gets rejected

If the council says no to your request, you have 28 days to try again. Here’s what to do:

  1. Learn About the Process: Understand how to try again. Know the deadlines and rules, or your new request might not work.
  2. Write a Strong Letter: Make sure your new letter is just as good as the first one. Explain why you still think the TPO should change and show any new proof.
  3. Get Expert Help: Talk to a tree expert again. They can guide you through this step and help make your new request strong.


To sum it up, challenging a Tree Preservation Order might seem tricky, but with the right steps, it can be done. Do your research, get help when needed, and remember that having good reasons and strong evidence will make your case powerful. Always understand why a TPO is there, and work towards a fair balance between protecting trees and making progress.