A tree is protected if it is covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), or if it is located within a Conservation Area. If you are intending to carry out work on a tree, you should contact Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) to see if it is protected.
Trees can be protected in several ways:
- Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are made by MVDC to protect one or more trees in an area. There are currently about 1000 TPOs in force in Mole Valley (see 'Related Pages')
- Conservation Areas provide statutory protection for most trees, and you must give MVDC six weeks' written notice if you intend to carry out any work (see 'Related Pages')
- Planning conditions requiring trees to be retained for up to 5 years may be attached to a planning permission
- The Forestry Act controls the removal of trees from woodlands if the total amounts to more than 5 cubic metres
Before carrying out work on a tree, you should first check to see whether the tree is protected and, if it is, an application for permission will need to be made to MVDC. Further details about making an application can be found by visiting the Tree Preservation Orders page (see 'Related Pages').
If permission is granted, you are advised to use a fully qualified and insured tree contractor. A list of known local tree contractors is available to view (see 'Downloads'). Please note that this information is provided for your assistance, and MVDC is not in a position to recommend any one particular contractor.
Carrying out work on a protected tree
Everyone, apart from statutory undertakers, is required to inform MVDC if they plan to remove protected trees or parts that are dead or dangerous.
It is a criminal offence to cut down, prune or wilfully damage or destroy a tree covered by a TPO unless MVDC has permitted the work (see also 'Related Pages' - Conservation Areas). Before commencing work on any tree, it is strongly recommended that you check the status by emailing details, including the site location and a description of the work you wish to carry out, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to carry out works on a tree protected by a TPO, you can make an electronic application via the Planning Portal website (see 'Internet links'). Alternatively, you can download an Application for Tree Works form (see 'Internet Links') and email it as an attachment to email@example.com or send it to Planning Department, MVDC, Pippbrook, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1SJ. Two documents, 'check list' and 'help', are also available for reference (See 'Internet Links'). No fee is payable when applying for work on trees.
Once issued, MVDC cannot vary or revoke any consent, so both the applicant and MVDC need to ensure that any decision is right first time.
Dead and Dangerous Protected Trees (Trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order and/or within a Conservation Area)
The Dead and Dangerous exemptions to the Tree Preservation and Conservation Area Regulations are contained in Section 14 of the Town and Country (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 (See 'Internet links')
Section 14 states that nothing shall prevent the removal of hazardous parts or the felling of a protected tree that is dead or immediately dangerous. The only requirement is that at least 5 days notice is served on the Council in writing prior to carrying out necessary works to make the trees safe; unless it is an emergency, in which case notice should be given as soon as the works become necessary. It is acceptable to serve such notices by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that a Tree Felling Consent application is still required for dying trees.
A TREE EXEMPTION NOTICE should contain:
a) the notice subject - TREE EXEMPTION NOTICE
b) the full address
c) a description of the dangerous parts and condition, what works are intended to make the trees safe, the species in plain english
d) photos of the tree and problems
e) a clear simple plan showing the trees location in relation to buildings, roads, boundaries and north point.
The Council may take the opportunity to inspect the trees or may acknowledge your notice sooner to say go ahead. Please be mindful that there is a legal duty to replace trees removed under the exemptions unless the Council waivers the requirement.
If you have any questions please contact the Council on 01306 885001.
In woodlands, even if a TPO is in force, you must first apply to the Forestry Commission for a felling licence if you want to cut down trees containing more than five cubic metres of wood in any calendar quarter (see 'Internet Links'). However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, you do not need a licence to felling trees in parks or enclosed gardens.
If a licence is required and the trees are covered by a TPO, the Forestry Commission will deal with your application in consultation with MVDC. Where the Commission proposes to grant a licence, it will first give notice to MVDC, which then has the right to comment on or object to the proposal. In that instance, the application will be referred to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, who will make a final decision. The Forestry Commission usually requires felled trees to be restocked, and does not normally grant licences to change woodland to agricultural use.