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Trees and hedgerows

Advice and information about tree preservation orders, conservation areas, high hedges and carrying out work on protected trees.

A Tree

What is a tree?

This may seem a silly question, but the term is not defined in the legislation.

In 1980, a High Court judge held that 'Anything which ordinarily one would call a tree is a "tree"'!

Tree Preservation Orders

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) can be used to protect trees and woodlands that have 'amenity value'. This means that they enhance the landscape, and their removal would spoil the public's enjoyment of it. This might be because of their natural beauty, or because they hide ugly buildings such as factories or warehouses.

Because of this, tree preservation orders will usually only be granted if trees are visible from public areas, such as a road, footpath or park. The council will assess whether a tree or trees warrant protection in any particular circumstances.

Trees that are protected by Tree Preservation Orders may not be cut down, uprooted, topped, lopped, damaged or destroyed without the planning authority’s permission. It is a criminal offence to carry out work on a protected tree, with a maximum penalty of £20,000 for destroying the tree, or £2,500 if the tree is damaged but not destroyed.

There are some exceptions made for trees that are dead, dying or dangerous. However, it is the responsibility of the owner to prove that the tree was indeed dead, dying or dangerous, so it is advised to give the council at leas five days notice before undertaking the work, unless it is an emergency. The owner may also be required to plant a replacement tree in the same location.

Trees in conservation areas

Trees in conservation areas are also given some protection. Before carrying out work on a tree in a conservation area, you must give the council six weeks notice to consider the tree in question and decide if a Tree Preservation Order is warranted.

As with Tree Preservation Orders, exceptions are made for dead, dying or dangerous trees, and also for trees that have a stem diameter of less than 75mm, measured at 1.5 metres up from the ground.

Is my tree protected?

To find out if a tree is protected, please use our Interactive Online Mapping service*. (this is a link to our GIS Mapping system. Maps may take some time to load if using a slower connection. Help and accessibility)

Work on protected trees

If you have a protected tree on your property (either because it is covered by a TPO, or because it is in a conservation area), and you would like to carry out work on it, you must apply for written permission (form available in the related documents section). You will need to provide the following information with your application:

For all trees

A sketch plan clearly showing the position of the relevant trees must be provided when applying for works to trees covered by a TPO. A sketch plan is also advised when notifying the Local Planning Authority of works to trees in a conservation area. It would also be helpful if you provided details of any advice given on site by planning or tree officer of the council.

For works to trees covered by a TPO

Please indicate whether the reasons for carrying out the proposed works include any of the following. If so, your application must be accompanied by the necessary evidence to support your proposals:

Alleged damage to property (for example, subsidence or damage to drains or drives)

Subsidence - A report by an engineer or surveyor, to include a description of damage, vegetation, monitoring data, soil, roots and repair proposals. Also a report from an arboriculturist to support the tree work proposals.

Other structural damage (for example, drains, walls and hard surfaces) - Written technical evidence from an appropriate expert, including description of damage and possible solutions.

Condition of the tree(s)

(for example, it is diseased or you have fears that it might break or fall) - Written arboricultural advice or other diagnostic information from an appropriate expert.


Some hedges in the countryside are protected by the Hedgerow Regulations, which aim to conserve hedges considered important, for archaeological, historical, environmental or landscape interest.

It is a criminal offence to remove hedgerows that are considered 'important'. If you are considering removing a hedgerow, you must notify us, showing location plans of the hedges and give reasons for removing the hedge.

High hedges

Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 gives South Derbyshire District Council power to deal with complaints about high hedges. Provided you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving your hedge dispute, you will be able to submit your complaint about a neighbour's evergreen hedge to the Environmental Health section of the District Council. More about High Hedges

Some advice for private tree owners

  • Always contact the local authority to ensure that the trees are not protected by a Tree Protection Order, planning constraints or that the tree is within a conservation area.
  • Always employ a suitable trained professional Tree Surgeon, who is covered by Public Liability Insurance. (Always ask for proof).
  • Never employ house callers or leaflet droppers claiming to be professional tree surgeons.
  • Reputable Tree Surgeons will always have some form of professional identification and qualification proof. Always ask to see it.
  • Reputable Tree Surgeons can be found in the Yellow Pages.

Supplementary Planning Guidance on Trees and Development

The trees and development document can be found in the related documents section.

Contact details

South Derbyshire District Council
Planning Services
Civic Offices
Civic Way
DE11 0AH

Tel: 01283 228706
Online: contact form

* The mapping included in this site is supplied to the council under license, please refer to the terms and conditions. By clicking through to the map it is assumed that you have accepted the terms and conditions.

Page ref: LGSL 508

Related documents

The following document is in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)