Tree preservation orders (TPOs) are granted by local planning authorities to protect trees which bring significant amenity benefit to the local area. It is generally an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by a TPO, or a tree situated within a conservation area.

Those wishing to work on a protected tree must seek permission from the local planning authority. Owners remain responsible for protected trees following the grant of a TPO. The planning authority will therefore inform parties with an interest in the protected tree when the TPO is granted.

On 6 April 2012 the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012 came into force, aiming to consolidate and simplify existing legislation and introduce a standard format for orders. Significant changes made include immediate provisional protection for six months upon grant of a TPO, followed by long-term protection once the authority has considered any objections to the order. Additionally, planning authorities are no longer required to notify owners and occupiers of adjoining land with no rights over the tree when a TPO is granted. The previous exemption for “dying” trees has also been removed from the consent requirement, so that only trees that are dead or dangerous do not need consent before work is carried out.