Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)

What is a TPO?

TPOs are made to protect trees and woodlands. They stop important landscape trees from being cut down or harmfully pruned without our permission.

Anyone who intends to carry out work to a tree that is protected by a TPO must apply for and receive consent before carrying out the work.

Guidance: Tree Preservation Orders and Trees in Conservation Areas

How do I find out if a tree has a TPO?

Please call us on 01480 388424 with the address, postcode, location and type of tree. We will tell you if the tree is protected, either by a TPO or because it is in a conservation area.

When you are buying a property, the presence of a TPO or a conservation area should be highlighted by the search of the Local Land Charges register.

How do I apply to carry out works to a tree protected by a TPO?

You need to submit a Tree Works Application Form. There are no fees required for these applications.

You are encouraged to seek the advice of an arboriculturalist before making an application.

The Tree Work Guidance Notes and Checklist will help you to complete your application.

Submit a Tree Works Application Online

If you would rather submit your application by post, please download and complete the Tree Works Application Form and send it to Planning Services, Pathfinder House, St Mary’s Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TN.

Once registered, your application will be part of the public register and will be accessible via the council’s planning applications system. In certain circumstances, your application may be sent to neighbours and other relevant third parties. You should draw our attention to any sensitive private information which you do not wish to be made available in this way.

It takes up to eight weeks for us to make a decision on a TPO application.

How do I get a copy of a TPO?

Call our customer service team on 01480 388424. You will need to have either the number of the TPO or the exact address of the location of the tree(s) so we can find the correct TPO.

The charge for this is £3 and payment can be made by credit or debit card when you call.

Trees in a conservation area

All trees within a conservation area that have a trunk diameter of 75mm (approximately 3 inches) or more are protected.

Unauthorised work to a tree protected by a TPO or a tree in a conservation area is a criminal offence.

How do I know if the tree is in a conservation area?

You can view conservation areas in Huntingdonshire on the Conservation Areas page.

How do I apply to carry out works to a tree within a conservation area?

If you want to carry out work to protected trees within a conservation area you must give us at least six weeks' written notice of the work you propose to do.

In certain situations, we may place a TPO on a tree to stop work being done.

To notify us submit a Tree Works Application online via the Planning Portal.

If you would rather submit your notification by post, please download and complete the Tree Works Application Form and send it to Planning Services, Pathfinder House, St Mary’s Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TN.

Guidance: Notification of Proposed Works to Trees in a Conservation Area

What happens if I do the work without permission? 

If you prune a tree without consent you may be prosecuted and fined up to £2,500. If you destroy a tree without consent you may be fined up to £20,000.

Trees on private property

If you are concerned about the state of a tree on your neighbour’s land, we suggest you speak to the landowner to draw their attention to the problem and ask them to deal with it. They may not be aware that the tree is a problem and may take action to resolve the issue.

In our experience, keeping good and friendly relations with your neighbour is more likely to lead to a satisfactory outcome or at least an acceptable compromise. Offering to pay for the work needed to solve your problem may help but, in many cases, the owner of the trees has the final say.

We will not get involved in any dispute or mediation over trees which we do not own.

If you need help with any matter concerning trees on private property you should consult a solicitor or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Frequently asked questions

I don’t know who owns the land on which the tree stands – what can you do to help?

We only keep records of land we own or maintain and do not hold records of private land ownership. If you don’t know who owns the land (and the tree(s)), you can carry out a land search through the Land Registry.

I have a tree growing in my garden – what are my responsibilities?

All trees in private ownership are the responsibility of the owner of the land on which they grow; whether or not they are subject to statutory tree protection. If you have freehold ownership of land on which a tree grows you are responsible for it, unless you have leased the land to a third party who, through the terms of the lease, has accepted this responsibility. We do not have responsibility for, or undertake work to, privately owned trees.

Tree owners owe a duty of care to all third parties and are liable at all times for any nuisance or damage the tree causes. If you are aware of a defect in your tree and it subsequently causes damage, you may be held liable for negligence. The duty of care extends even to persons who may trespass onto your land.

If you concerned about the condition of a tree in your garden you should seek advice from a qualified tree contractor or arboricultural consultant.

Advice and Guidance: Choosing a Tree Surgery Contractor

Advice and Guidance: Choosing a Arboricultural Consultant

The branches of my neighbour’s tree are hanging over my property – what can I do?

Under common law you are allowed to prune any branches from trees and hedges overhanging your land, and also roots growing under your land up to your boundary without the consent of the owner. However, you must not trespass on your neighbour's land to do this.

You must also offer to return the branches and any fruit which is attached or has fallen on to your land. You must exercise reasonable care when carrying out the work, or asking others to do the work to the tree, as failure to do so may lead to you becoming liable for negligence if the work you carry out, such as cutting roots, causes the tree to die or become dangerous.

Common law rights do not apply if the tree is protected by a TPO or is in a conservation area. In this case you must first make an application and receive consent in writing from us before any work takes place, including work to branches which extend over your property. You can apply for the necessary consent and do not have to rely on your neighbour or the tree owner to do this. We advise anyone considering pruning a tree overhanging their garden to seek professional advice from a tree contractor or arboricultural consultant.

My neigbour’s tree is blocking my light – what can I do?

There is no right to light in law. Any case in respect of loss of light must be proven in the Civil Court. If successful, an injunction may be served by the Court requiring the offending trees to be reduced in height or restricting their further growth. Court action is likely to be expensive and we strongly advise against it.

My neigbour’s trees are blocking my view– what can I do?

Nothing except speak to your neighbour and ask him/her to remedy the situation. There is no right to a view.

My neighbours have planted a tree very close to my boundary – can they do this?

There is no law to stop anyone planting or growing a tree anywhere on their property. There is also no law restricting the height of trees.

However, anyone who plants a poisonous tree so close to a boundary that its branches grow over that boundary and are eaten by a neighbour's livestock may be held liable for damages. If, however, a neighbour's livestock reach over to the tree owner's side of the boundary to eat the leaves, the tree owner will most likely not be liable unless they have a legal responsibility to maintain the boundary.

Who should I contact if trees, shrubs or hedges from a private garden are overhanging and blocking a footpath?

Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) is responsible for the removal or cutting back of trees, shrubs and hedges that obstruct or endanger highway users. This could be growth blocking a footpath, hanging low over a road, or interfering with street lights, traffic lights or road signs.

You can report a highways problem online or call CCC on 0345 045 5212.

A tree in a neighbouring garden is blocking my satellite TV signal – can I do anything?

No. There is no legal right to TV reception and interference is not, at present, a legal nuisance as defined in law. You will need to move or re-site your satellite dish.

What can I do if a neighbour’s tree is causing damage to my property?

If you believe your property is being damaged, directly or indirectly, by tree roots, you are best advised to consult an arboricultural consultant or a structural engineer.

There will usually be evidence of damage such as deformation, bowing or cracking of walls, uneven surfacing or blocked drains. If this is the case, you should notify your building insurer who may carry out further investigation and negotiate with the tree owner and their insurer. In cases where damage is proven, the tree owner or their insurer is likely to be liable.