Town & Country Planning Act 1990 – sections 197 -214 as amended
The Planning & Compensation Act 1991 (Section 23)
Forestry Act 1967 (as amended)
The Town & Country Planning (Trees) Regulations 1999
Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)
A Council can impose a TPO on privately owned trees without the consent of their owners. Such an Order prevents the owners from doing anything whatsoever to the trees without the express permission of the Council. The owners are warned they will remain responsible for the trees and any damage they may cause. In short, the Council say, the owners still have a ‘duty of care’ and should the trees cause damage or continue to be a nuisance they will be held liable.
This is contrary to natural justice. Why should owners be held responsible for something that the Council has prevented them from remedying? Surely the Council should accept responsibility and liability?
We own an ever green Lucombe oak. A large part of its canopy is over a Pre school playground. The school, on health and safety grounds, wanted the tree removed because of the dangers it was posing to its infants aged 3 – 5 years. Their reasons being that it drops small branches, dead leaves (all year round being an ever green) small acorns and birds excrement into their playground. As owners of the tree we made the application but the Council refused its removal and made it the subject of a TPO. Even the Council’s Arboricultural Officer, having objected to its removal, agreed about its danger and nuisance describing it as causing “inconvenience all year round due to leaf cast , branch shedding, bird excrement and causing anxiety to residents in periods of adverse weather conditions”
Why does this idea matter?
1. Restoring natural justice – see above
2. Reducing council bureaucracy
Our application to cut the tree down led to a number of visits by several officials, none of whom called upon us or the pre-school owner. They were seen with cameras and clip boards measuring and filming the tree.
The pre-school owner and myself attended a hearing at the Council offices. There were three councillors ‘holding court’ with a team of council administrators to assist them in their adjudication. They listened to our five minute presentation spelling out the dangers to the infants and why it should be cut down.
The Council team requesting the TPO comprised of a solicitor, two assistants, a technician to run the 60 second film of the tree and two fully qualified Arboricultural officers from the District and County Councils. It took them nearly a hour to 'prosecute' their application. No wonder my council rates are so high paying for a dozen or bureaucrats and elected representatives to impose a simple TPO and then they have the gall to remind us the tree is still our responsibility.