Warning! Read this before you chop down a tree...!

A recent case has highlighted the costs of disregarding a Tree Preservation Order. A Dorset business man is believed to be the first person fined under Proceeds of Crime Act for breach of a Tree Preservation Order, when he “butchered” an oak tree in his own garden because it was causing shade on a newly built balcony.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of causing the wilful damage to a protected tree and was fined £1,200 for the offence and ordered to pay an additional £21,750 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, plus over £15,000 in costs.

The Proceeds of Crime fine aimed to punish him for the benefit of his criminal activity. In this case it was estimated that by cutting back the tree, he had increased the value of his £1 million home by some £21,000 to £30,000.

A Tree Preservation Order is by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) in respect of trees or woodlands. Its aim is prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage, or wilful destruction of trees without the LPA’s consent.

When we act for anyone purchasing a property we will normally obtain a Local Search. The results of this Search will highlight whether any trees or woodlands within the vicinity of the Property are subject to Tree Preservation Orders. It will also show if any Planning Permissions have been granted for works to be completed to the Tree in the past.

If any Trees or Woodlands are subject to a TPO you will need to seek Planning Permission from the LPA each and every time you wish to complete any works to the Tree or woodlands. Please note there is no guarantee that the application will be successful so when purchasing a property you should ensure any trees subject to a TPO will not adversely affect the property.

If you live in a property and unsure whether a particular tree or woodlands is subject to a TPO you may contact the local authority to confirm this. And, if you need advice, contact one of our team.

More information can be found about TPO’s and the application process at https://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/planning-and-building/trees-and-hedges/trees/working-on-trees/

Published 10 April 2019

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