Protected trees

Many trees in the Borough are protected and you generally need our consent to carry out work on them.

Find out if a tree is protected

Trees may be protected because they are located in a conservation area, or are subject to a tree preservation order (TPO).

Details of TPOs in force are available at the Civic Centre, or by contacting our Customer Services Team by emailing trees@richmond.gov.uk or by telephone on 0208 891 1411.

If you are purchasing property, make sure you search the local land charges register which should reveal the existence of a TPO, or whether your property is in a conservation area. Make sure your solicitor tells you if any trees are protected.

Carrying out works on protected trees

In general, if the diameter of a protected tree’s trunk is greater than 7.5cm when measured at 1.5m above the ground, you will need to complete a tree work application in order to carry out any work on it.

In a few circumstances permission is not needed. These include:

  • When trees are cut down in connection with a Forestry Commission grant scheme, or where the Commission has granted a felling licence
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree which presents an imminent and serious safety risk – You must give us at least five days written notice (by post or email) of the proposed work as soon as practicable after the work becomes necessary. You must be able to show proof that, on the balance of probabilities, the tree was dead or dangerous.
  • Cutting down a dead tree – You must give us at least five working days written notice (by post or email) of the proposed work; and include photographic evidence of the tree(s) in question.
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree that has been approved as part of a detailed planning permission.
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree in a commercial orchard or the pruning of fruit trees which have been cultivated for fruit production (pruning must be undertaken in accordance with good Horticultural practice).
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree to prevent or control a legal nuisance - You must give us at least five days written notice (by post or email) of the proposed works, including:
    • photographs
    • a site plan
    • a specification of work
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree in line with a statutory obligation under an Act of Parliament
  • Removing dead branches from a living tree.

Where you are required to tell us about proposed work, we recommend you get professional advice from a qualified arborist before contacting us.

You may need to plant replacement trees. If you are in any doubt about your obligations, please check with us.

Making an application for tree works

You can apply for planning permission to carry out work on protected trees through the Planning Portal website, or download a paper form.

Please be specific about the proposed work when you make your application.We often have to send forms back because they do not contain enough detail, which can waste a lot of time. The Planning Portal website has guidance on how to complete the tree works form.

We strongly recommend that you get advice from a tree surgeon who can provide you with a professional specification of the works needed. The Arboricultural Association website has a list of approved contractors for tree works.

Applications take up to 8 weeks to be processed.

Trees in conservation areas

If a tree in a conservation area is already protected by a tree preservation order, normal tree preservation order procedures apply. If it is not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, you must submit a tree works application form(pdf, 266KB) and notify us by letter or email at least six weeks before the work starts. This gives us an opportunity to consider protecting the tree with a Tree Preservation Order.

Appealing a tree decision

If your application to carry out work on a protected tree is refused, or you object to the conditions we impose, you can make an appeal in writing within 28 days of receiving the decision.

Appeals are normally decided without a formal hearing, on the basis of written statements followed by a site visit. Both you and we, as the local planning authority, have the right instead to a public local inquiry or hearing.

The Secretary of State may allow or dismiss the appeal, or vary the original decision.

Fines for carrying out work without permission

If you deliberately destroy a tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £20,000 if found guilty. The Crown Court will consider any financial gain you may have made from the offence, when deciding the fine, which could be unlimited.

For other offences you could be fined up to £2,500.

You will normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.

Contact Customer Services

For tree enquiries, contact our Customer Services Team.

Email: trees@richmond.gov.uk
Telephone: 0208 891 1411

Our office hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Outside these hours for emergencies such as fallen trees, call Careline on 0208 744 2442.

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Updated: 29 March 2016