Trees are often included in tree protection orders and can be protected under the "Town and Country Planning Act" for example. I often get asked by clients "Are my trees protected?" and "how can I find out if they are?"

Trees may be protected by:

1 Tree Preservation Order "Town and country planning Act"  

2 Conservation Area   "Town and country planning Act" 

3 Forestry Act - Tree "Felling Licence"

The following link is a useful informative guide to tree protection orders:

There are other orders that may affect trees such as the Forestry Act:   

Determining tree protection status is a simple task and often achievable with a simple telephone call to your local authority. We provide tree services throughout Southampton and surrounding areas and regularly check tree protection status before proceeding with any tree work. If you want to determine protection status of a tree in your or your neighbor's garden for example, follow these simple steps:

1 Google your local planning authority name to obtain a telephone number


2 Contact the local authority and ask to speak with the tree officer or a representative that can confirm tree protection status  


3 If asked explain you are calling to determine tree protection status


4 Ensure you are clear on the trees location in your garden, i.e, front garden side boundary with No10 (next door) for example


5 Try to be clear on tree species


6 Once connected with the tree officer or council delegate, explain you are considering undertaking work on a tree/s in your or your neighbors garden and explain you would like to determine tree protection status


7 The council delegate should be able to answer your query


8 If the trees are protected you will need to complete an application form "1App" Tree Work Application form, you should be able to download a form from the relevant council's web site or make a planning application through the planning portal, follow the link below for guidance on making applications online:  


9 If the tree/s is not protected you may proceed with the works provided you are not felling more than 5 cubic metres in any one calendar quarter. If this is the case you may need to apply for a felling license from the forestry commission. Use the link below to find out more about felling licenses.$file/FellingLicenceFAQJuly2005.pdf  

In general you have a responsibility to determine tree protection status BEFORE you undertake any works to a tree, ignorance is not an excuse and you may face prosecution if you undertake work to a protected tree!


Exceptions! You do not need permission if you are cutting down or cutting back a tree:

  • which is dying, dead, dangerous (give the Council at least five days’ notice)
  • in line with an obligation under an Act of Parliament
  • at the request of certain organisations specified in the order
  • which is directly in the way of development that is about to start for which detailed planning permission has been granted
  • in a commercial orchard, or pruning fruit trees in accordance with good horticultural practice
  • to prevent or control a legal nuisance (you may find it helpful to check with a solicitor).

You may find it helpful to consult a suitably qualified Tree Surgeon to clarify what works are required and whether permission is needed.

What happens if I carry out works to a protected tree without permission?

The courts have powers to fine anyone contravening a Tree Preservation Order. The maximum fines are £20,000 for destroying a tree and up to £2,500 for anyone who does not completely destroy a tree but has carried out some other works without consent.

You may have to plant another tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed

Is the Local Council responsible for trees included in a tree protection order or conservation area ? 

No. The owner remains responsible for the trees, their condition, and any damage they may cause. The TPO ensures the retention of the tree within the landscape and prevents any unnecessary works.

Always check with your local planning authority before proceeding with tree work! Below is a list of local councils and links: