We have specific powers to protect trees within our borough by making Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). Special provisions also apply to trees within conservation areas. The purpose of TPOs is to protect trees that make a significant impact on their local surroundings.
How do I find out if a tree is protected?
You can check to see if a tree, or area of trees, is protected by using My Guildford to search for an address.
Tree Preservation Orders
Work can only be carried out to a TPO tree with our permission and it is an offence to carry out any work to that tree without permission.
All types of tree can be covered by a TPO - including hedgerow trees - but not hedges, bushes and shrubs.
The TPO can cover anything from a single tree, groups of trees or woodlands.
If a tree has a TPO, while the owner remains responsible for its condition, any cutting back or cutting down of the tree will still require our permission unless:
it is dying, dead or dangerous (see paragraph below),
it is to allow compliance with a statutory obligation,
it is directly in the way of development that is about to start for which detailed planning permission has been granted that includes works to the tree,
it is in a commercial orchard, or you are pruning fruit trees in accordance with good horticultural practice,
it will prevent or control a legal nuisance,
you have a felling licence from the Forestry Commission or the work is in accordance with one of the Commission's grant schemes.
However, in all of the above, we would advise you check with us first.
For dead, dying and dangerous requests you must give us a minimum of five working days' notice before you carry out any works unless imminently dangerous. The information provided should include a description of the proposed works, a sketch plan showing the location of the tree, species (if known) and photographs. This is in your interest as we could prosecute you if the work was unauthorised.
For trees in Conservation Areas, which are not subject to a TPO, you will need to give us six weeks' notice before carrying out any work. This gives us the opportunity to establish whether the proposed work is acceptable in terms of good arboricultural practice and visual amenity. The exceptions to this are trees less than 75mm in diameter, measuring 1.5m above the ground (or 100mm if thinning to help the development of better trees).
The dead, dying and dangerous exemption also applies in conservation areas. For dead, dying and dangerous requests you must give us a minimum of five working days' notice before you carry out any works unless imminently dangerous.
Applications for works to trees in a conservation area or covered by a TPO
If you want to carry out work to a protected tree (and don't need a felling licence) you will need to fill in the relevant application form. You should always provide as much evidence as possible to support your case. Further guidance can be found in our related pages section. We aim to determine applications for work to a TPO tree in eight weeks and for trees in a conservation area in six weeks.
If you want to cut down trees containing more than five cubic metres of wood in any calendar quarter (excluding trees in gardens), whether or not a TPO is in force, you will also need to apply to the Forestry Commission for a Felling Licence.
Trees and hedges may be protected by conditions attached to a planning permission. If this is the case, an application for the "removal or variation of a condition" will be required for any proposed works. Further information can be found in our related pages under what types of planning applications are there.
Countryside hedgerow removal
Hedgerows are protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. Under these regulations, it is against the law to remove or destroy certain hedgerows without permission from the local planning authority. Permission is required before removing hedges that are at least 30 years old and meet one of the following criteria:
- Marks pre-1850 parish or township boundary.
- Incorporates or is associated with an archaeological site.
- Marks the boundary of, or is associated with, a pre-1600 estate or manor.
- Forms an integral part of a pre-parliamentary enclosed field system.
- Contains certain species of birds, animals or plants listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
- Includes between five and seven woody species in a 30 metre length.
- Runs along a bridleway, footpath, road used as a public path, or a byway and includes at least four woody species on average in a 30 metre length.
If you are proposing to remove a hedgerow, or part of a hedgerow, which is covered by the above criteria, you will need to submit a hedgerow removal application.
More guidance can be found on the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs website.
The regulations do not apply to any hedgerow within the curtilage of, or marking the boundary of, the curtilage of a dwelling house.
Our planning enforcement team can investigate complaints relating to high hedges made under Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.
In order to make a complaint, you must have already attempted to resolve the dispute directly. Making a high hedge complaint is also subject to a fee.