Applying for Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

Tree preservation orders (TPOs) are part of the national planning system, and are designed to try to maintain an element of amenity trees in the town and country landscapes of the UK. They can be applied for to protect particularly important healthy trees that are at risk of development, and MUST fulfil specific criteria in order to be applied. There are already over 200,000 TPOs in the UK, but it isn’t easy to get new ones.

Trees covered by TPOs will still need to be managed, kept safe and taken care of by the landowner.tree-dorset

Before you try to get a TPO on a tree or a group of trees it is a very good idea to check carefully that there isn’t already a TPO, or Conservation Area or Planning Permission already granted for those trees or in that area. Trees in Conservation Areas are already protected, and you are therefore much less likely to get an additional TPO in a Conservation Area. Trees on sites that have already been decided by a planning decision cannot then be preserved by a TPO contrary to the planning decision.

You should check your local council website or local plan for this information. Some local authorities use an interactive map, and some require you to enter an address in order to find any such planning restrictions within say 50 metres of that address. More information on each district’s system will gradually be placed at the bottom of this page.

Its important to remember that TPOs are not the end of the story. They may be overturned by planning permissions that, usually based on professional tree surveys, provide evidence and successfully argue for the removal of trees that initially were covered by TPOs, perhaps due to the deterioration of the trees condition, or simply that the balance of interest is in favour of the development as opposed to the retention of those particular trees. New tree planting or landscaping may usually be proposed in mitigation of the loss. Also, even if a tree is covered by a TPO the owner can still apply to the local authority to have it pruned back or even felled for various reasons, including that the tree poses a danger or is a substantial nuisance. However, TPOs do offer a fair degree of protection and are worth getting if you can. Applications need to be carefully made and explicitly fulfil the criteria!

The process for getting a TPO is explained in a bit more detail here on the Direct.Gov website, The process is outlined in flowchart 1 in section 2 of this guidance.

When you are trying to get a TPO, local authorities may use a range of criteria in order to decide whether to grant the TPO. Generally, the tree or trees have to be of significant amenity value (look good in the landscape?), should be in good condition and expected to last for as many more decades as possible, and must be easily visible from a public space, road or footpath. They would also be expected to be under threat of destruction or development. It may be worth looking at your area’s local plan, to see where trees might (perhaps) be regarded as under some implied threat of development. Trees in Conservation Areas already have good protection, so a further protection by TPOs will hardly ever be granted.

More advice on proposing a TPO is quoted here, but from a different local authority:

“Making a TPO:

The Local Planning Authority may only make a TPO where it appears to them to be expedient to protect a tree, group of trees or woodland which make a significant contribution to amenity. This may include trees that are in danger of being felled or under threat due to proposed development.

If you think a tree should be considered for a TPO, write to or sometimes you can email!!, see your own district’s website) with details of the location of the tree and why you think it should be considered.

The Local Planning Authority will consider the merit of protecting trees by undertaking an objective assessment based on their contribution to amenity and impact on the local landscape. The assessment is carried out in accordance with Government advice contained in Tree Preservation Orders and Trees in Conservation Areas. The document advises the Local Planning Authority to develop ways of assessing the amenity value of trees for protection in a structured and consistent way.

The evaluation will consider the following criteria:

  • The condition of the tree(s) and an assessment of future life expectancy.
  • An assessment of the potential threat to the tree and whether it is expedient to make a Tree Preservation Order.
  • A Landscape Appraisal will assess visual prominence, landscape setting, presence of other trees and function and suitability of the tree(s) to the site.
  • Future benefits the tree might provide, growth potential, age and assessment of wildlife habitat.

Your application for a TPO should cover these points as clearly as you can!

A report will then be submitted to the Development Management and Building Control Manager for a possible recommendation to make the Order. If a decision to make the Order is justified, the Local Planning Authority will serve the Order on those affected.”

Examples of how to check for existing TPOs and Conservation Areas in different areas of Kent.

Ashford District Council. Go to the excellent website page:, then click on “interactive maps” and tick the TPO and Conservation Areas boxes on the left. Zoom in the map or select the parish you are interested in then watch out for the details on the TPOS to appear. When zoomed in, the map should show cross-hatched green patches to show groups of TPOd trees or green spots to show individual TPOd trees, with red horizontally hatched patches for the Conservation Areas. All the further text details of the orders can be found by going back the the first page above and clicking on “Access records of TPOs made since 1999”. Play with the map until you understand how it works.

Dover District Council. Go to the website page:, then click on “protected trees” and zoom in the map or give a particular location then watch out for the details on the TPOS to appear. when zoomed in, the map should show the olive-green patches to show groups of TPOd trees or green spots to show individual TPOd trees, clicking on the map at a particular point should bring up text descriptions of the TPOs close by (there is a slider to scale “close-by” from 25 to 100 m), etc, and clicking on “more info” at the bottom of the associated text to that specific TPO will even give scans of the original order. Play with the map until you understand how it works.

Thanet District Council. Go to the website page:, enter the name of the road or postcode, then on the drop-down menu enter the specific address along that road or in that postcode then watch out for the details on the TPOS to appear at the bottom – cursor down using the right hand slider to see them all. Clicking on individual tree TPOs shows the groups of trees or the tiniest of spots to indicate the location of the individual tree concerned. Play with the system until you understand how it works.

Yew Poisoning


There are a number of dangerous plants that farm animals, domestic animals and humans can experience serious illness or even death from eating, and Yew, exceptionally common in Kent, is one of the very worst. Tree Wardens can help their communities by watching out in their own local area for potentially dangerous situations such as yew plants/trees in gardens or parks growing over or even close to field fences, warning of the dangers of throwing any clippings or hedge trimmings (and even old Christmas wreaths) into fields, fly-tipping of garden waste, and generally raising awareness in their local communities. Deer don’t seem to suffer toxicity, but farm animals, horses and dogs are all highly susceptible – do not let your dog even chew on yew branches!

Legal liabilities between property owners and their neighbouring farmers and horse owners are highly complex in the case of a poisoning, but clearly prevention of risk is the first and most appropriate step for a tree warden to think about. The toxins seem to be at a higher level in dying or dead yew trimmings than live leaves, and also in the winter – it is possible that stock that were safe(r) grazing briefly on grass in the summer with yews about may be very much more at risk in fields for longer periods after summer drought or in the winter when the grass has slowed its growth, and the animals turn to yew foliage that they might not normally eat. However there is no safe level of exposure, even small handfuls can kill, and its not pretty, there is a lot of suffering. Animals in their prime may just survive, and eventually recover from, small doses that will kill young and over-mature animals in a few hours, but there is little effective overall treatment.

Why not have a good old wander around your parish looking for fields where livestock MIGHT ever be kept, next to wildlife, park or garden areas where there MIGHT be yew trees, bushes or hedges? There will be another post on other toxic plants shortly.


Protection of Traditional Orchards

Sadly we appear to have lost much or all of another traditional orchard in Kent yesterday, at the start of April 2019.

We have learned that even the most attractive and biodiverse of traditional orchards may be grubbed up if the land is needed for commercial farming. If the landowner is willing however, there is DEFRA grant support for farmers to maintain and support traditional orchards on farms.

TPOs may NOT be put on orchards on commercial land, but it is worth searching your area for small remnant orchards not being used commercially and trying to protect them with TPOs, and help and support the landowner to keep them going.  If you are aware of an old orchard in your area, which is NOT being used commercially and NOT on a commercial farm, consider the advice from PTES’ Orchard Network on ways in which it might get some degree of protection,

There is a truly brilliant project in Kent to preserve our orchards, called Orchards for All, and the results can be seen here:

From Agriecology: A set of simple management techniques can support a wide range of wildlife in traditional orchards and this note will be useful for those seeking to increase wildlife in fruit or cobnut orchards.


  • Traditional fruit and nut orchards are important refuges for a wide range of wildlife.
  • The key management principle for orchard wildlife conservation is to continue or reinstate low intensity management.
  • Fruit trees produce veteran tree features when mature such as hollow trunks and split bark. These provide important refuges for a wide range of wildlife species; a number of which are conservation priorities under the national Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).
  • It is important to maintain a full age range of orchard trees within your orchard. Trees with veteran features provide the most important habitat, but younger trees help maintain continuity.
  • It is important to manage your orchard as a whole. While trees are the most important habitat for wildlife, many species depend on a mosaic of habitats for food and shelter:
    • Hedgerows of mixed shrub and height provide nesting sites for birds and nectar sources for pollinators and are easy to manage.
    • Orchard floors with a variety of sward lengths provide opportunities for insects and invertebrate to find food and nest.
  • Maintaining and strengthening links between orchards and habitats such as hedgerows and parkland is important for overall biodiversity, increasing wildlife populations, and adaption to climate change.

(Additional information about orchard planting and management can be found on the Orchard Network website).

Tree planting in bitter weather…

“…Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather…”

Trees of Love and NAMA (New Addington Malayalee Association) families braved the icy blasts on the morning of Saturday, the 15th December to plant trees at Rowdown Field, New Addington, strongly supported by hard-working Councillors Simon Hall, Oliver Lewis and Felicity Flynn. What a stunning community effort and what truly amazing young people!


Excellent Eastbourne Tree Planting

The weather as we set off from Tonbridge today was rather concerning – cold and heavy rain with a chilly breeze, but by the time we got to Princes Park in sunny Eastbourne, the weather was dry and actually beginning to warm up. We first met the highly efficient and friendly Trevor and Barry from Neighbourhood First, Eastbourne Council, who quite rightly wanted to know who had interrupted their Sunday morning by organising a bit of tree planting. After I had confessed, we soon realised we actually relied upon them utterly for practical support and organisation! Our leaders Basil and Labu soon arrived with the essential trees, canes and spiral guards and then another friendly and helpful face appeared – the amazing Luke Jones from Brighton, keen as always to get some trees planted – I knew everything was going to be alright now!  Next to appear was the rather wonderful Stephen Lloyd MP in search of a tree-planting event to go to, and then everybody began to arrive on site and suddenly  speed was of the essence. The group was the Keral Social Club – The name Keral stands for Kids Educational Recreational Arts and Linguistic. After a brief series of introductions, we got to work, with the youngsters managing their parents to excellent effect!

113424 Families getting to work, Princes Park, Eastbourne 2018 12 09

We had quite a large number of families, I would guess about 10 families, so about 40 or 50 people altogether to get all the trees in – some reinforcement saplings were called for!

113127 Tree planting at Princes Park, Eastbourne 2018 12 09

We all had a great time tree-planting, and soon it was time for the presentation of the Tree-planting certificates for the youngsters in the group who had worked so hard.

115128 Issueing of tree planting certificates, Princes Park, Eastbourne 2018 12 09

And then of course it was time for the Group Photo, this time with a superb banner and even national flags as well!

115657 Group photo, Keral Social Club, Princes Park, Eastbourne 2018 12 09

So we had had a really great morning with the wonderful Keral Social Club,  organised with Trees of Love, Basil especially, skilfully and very kindly supported by Stephen Lloyd, MP, and by the superb staff of Neighbourhood First, Trevor and Basil from Eastbourne Borough Council. Lots of young saplings carefully planted on a chilly morning for a better future environment!

140327 Some of the planted trees 2018 12 09


Tree Planting Week – and more!

Over the weekend of the start of Tree Planting Week, and of Tree Charter Day, some Kent Tree (and Pond!) Wardens joined with a great community group, Trees of Love, to plant whips from the Woodland Trust and TCV in Grosvenor and Hilbert Park in Tunbridge Wells, and Tonbridge Farm Sportsground (Longmead) in Tonbridge.

We were quite lucky with the weather on both days and I think we got close to 200 trees planted over the weekend as a whole. The families and the children in particular worked very hard and very much enjoyed the whole experience, including receiving their tree-planting certificates!

We are hoping to continue working with Trees of Love and other groups, and we plan to plant more whips at Longmead, and possibly at Hoo, Croydon, Eastbourne and perhaps Haysden Country Park in the coming months – do come and join us if you can!

Tree planting at Grosvenor and Hilbert Park, Tunbridge Wells today!Tree planting at Grosvenor and Hilbert Park, Tunbridge Wells today 2!Tree planting at Grosvenor and Hilbert Park, Tunbridge Wells today 3!

Tree planting celebration.

In the parishes of Littlebourne, Ickham and Wickhambeaux, all near Canterbury, Tree Wardens have been involved in the planting of trees this week to celebrate 50 years of the local Four Villages Conservation Society. Unfortunately, they had to wait for the availability of one tree so they just missed out on the official Tree Council’s Planting Week, but they can definitely still claim to be a part of this year’s effort!

Littlebourne chose a Bird Cherry, Prunus padus, for their riverbank site, Wickhambreaux has a Field Maple, Acer campestre nanum for the small central green and Ickham has a Pin Oak, Quercus palustris, for the churchyard.

The young tree at Wickhambreaux will automatically receive the status of having a TPO as it replaces a felled Pink Horse-Chestnut. Aesculus x carnea.

These will all be recorded on the new Heritage Trees in Kent map by the new volunteer group who are continuing the work of the Kent Heritage Tree Project. Please let us know of any other newly planted trees that you would like to be recorded on the new Kent map!

Britain’s new Tree Champion!

From the Tree Council – Britain’s recently appointed Tree Champion, Sir William Worsley, has marked his preparations for this month’s National Tree Week by paying tribute to the thousands of dedicated and expert Tree Wardens around the country who work behind the scenes as unpaid volunteers all year round.


With the six-month point of his tenure as the country’s first Tree Champion fast approaching, Sir William Worsley calls National Tree Week “an important part of my year” and has highlighted the work of the 6,000 volunteer Tree Wardens that promote and protect the trees in their local community, under a scheme managed by The Tree Council. This year, The Tree Council are taking the opportunity to thank these volunteers for their tireless work, which according to Sir William represents “a vital resource”.

Throughout National Tree Week, which runs from Saturday 24 November to Sunday 2 December, the country’s Tree Wardens will be busy planting trees in their local communities, encouraging schools and other groups to get involved, and will be ensuring the future care of newly planted trees.


Sara Lom, CEO of The Tree Council, said: “National Tree Week will see charities, professionals, schools and our volunteer Tree Warden groups across the UK supporting the initiative and bringing their communities together to do something positive in their neighbourhood. Trees are rooted in history and offer hope for the future. They strengthen communities, provide homes for wildlife and contribute to our health and wellbeing. That’s why it’s so vital for everyone to keep planting and caring for trees, and our volunteer Tree Wardens are the hidden heroes, getting people together to plant and care for trees around the country.” The Tree Council is currently seeking to grow the number of Tree Wardens nationwide.


Sir William sees National Tree Week as “an opportunity to engage people in planting trees.” The Tree Wardens “play a huge role in getting people engaged in trees, particularly in urban areas,” he adds.


Sir William is calling everyone to get involved in National Tree Week as a way that individuals and communities can support the UK’s natural habitat and the wider environment. “It’s important that people understand about trees and feel inspired to look after them.”


Sir William encouraged members of the younger generation in particular to become more involved in supporting trees. “Young people understand about the issues of climate change and this is one of the ways they can actually do something. By planting a tree, you genuinely can do something. It may be only small, but it is actually something practical.” The importance of planting trees has been emphasised by the latest Committee on Climate Change report calling on the UK to double tree planting efforts to help tackle climate change.


Sir William, who has urged that trees must be at the heart of the government’s environmental vision for the future, added: “I would encourage all people to work closely with The Tree Council right across the sector. I think there are a huge number of people out there trying to get involved with trees and forests, and I think The Tree Council has a really important leadership role to play in bringing organisations together.”


Beyond National Tree Week, Sir William is encouraging people to remain involved with trees around the country.  “I would definitely encourage more people to become Tree Wardens,” Sir William said. “I admire the Tree Wardens. I admire all people that love trees.”

The Tree Council

Phone: 020 7407 9992

The Tree Council, 4 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, London SE16 2XU


Ash to Ash


Ash to Ash, a major new public artwork by Ackroyd & Harvey commissioned by The Ash Project, is now open to the public in White Horse Wood Country Park.A visit to these stunning new sculptures provides a thought-provoking opportunity to learn more about the ash tree or simply take some wonderful photos.

These monolithic sculptural works by the internationally renowned artists are both a celebration of ash trees and memorial to the devastating effects of ash dieback on the most common tree in the Kent Downs. White Horse Wood Country Park is free to visit and open to the public.

Watch the video about the making of the sculptures on you tube

Read some fantastic responses to the sculptures from the public on our website

Plan your visit


Community Tree Planting at Tonbridge

We had a tremendous day planting young saplings with families at the Tonbridge Farm Sportsground on Sunday the 25th of November, kindly supported by the two Tonbridge and Malling Borough Councillors, Councillor Vivienne Branson and Councillor Georgina Thomas.

This is Councillor Branson doing a superb job, planting the very first tree in Longmead Park for the start of National Tree Planting Week:

Councillor Branson

The families and particularly the children worked extremely hard to get the planting done. Saplings of Birch, Wild Cherry, Hazel, Crab Apple and Hawthorn were planted to provide a bio-diverse woodland shaw on the edge of Tonbridge Farm to help shelter the playing fields and play a small part in local flood control. The children’s “Tree Planting Certificates” were very richly deserved!



Group photo

Tree Planting certificates blank