Derby has some fantastic green spaces and many residents enjoy living in the city’s vibrant, leafy and green environment.

Trees are major capital assets and bring a sense of relaxation to our bustling city and provide us with many benefits.

Some of the fabulous trees around the city though may be protected by Tree Preservation Orders, or protected by being in a conservation area.

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But what is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a legal, written order made by us that generally makes it illegal to…

  • cut down
  • prune the branches or roots
  • uproot
  • damage in any other way

…a tree covered by the Order, without our formal, written permission.

TPOs can cover anything from single trees to woodlands, but don’t cover bushes or shrubs. Other laws cover the cutting down of hedgerows.

What does a TPO usually cover?

A TPO will be placed on trees of special visual importance. TPOs protect the general public’s enjoyment of the trees and are particularly important when trees are in danger of being lost – for instance, where there is a planning application for a development that may threaten the trees.

Anyone can suggest to us that a TPO is put on a tree. We will then decide if it is of enough visual importance to the general public to make a TPO.

We will tell you in writing if we intend to make a tree on your land the subject of a TPO. You would have the right to object to us making a TPO.

You can view detailed guidance on TPOs and trees in conservation areas on the GOV.UK website.

What can I do if I have a tree with a Preservation Order on it, or it is in a conservation area?

Even if there is a TPO in place, or the tree is in a conservation area, the owner (rather than the Council) is still responsible for the tree.

Anyone who wants to prune any part of the tree or cut it down would usually need to get our written permission before they do anything to the tree.

The Courts may impose heavy fines or even imprisonment if work is done without permission on a tree covered by a TPO, or in a conservation area.

How do I check if a tree is covered by a TPO, in a conservation area, or if work to a tree is being done legally?

We keep records of all trees covered by TPOs. We make new TPOs frequently, so we advise you always to check with us before you do any works to any tree.

You can email to check if a certain tree is covered by a TPO, in a conservation area, or whether works being carried out on certain tree have been authorised.

If you want to purchase a copy of an existing Tree Preservation Order though you should contact 

Working on a TPO tree, or a tree in a conservation area?

It is important that you remember to apply and explain which trees you want to do work on, what you want to do, and why.

You can do this by:

  • downloading the Works to Tree and guidance notes
  • contacting us for a free site location plan to show where the tree is to accompany your application
  • contacting us for a paper application form (we will also send you the site location plan)
  • using the Planning Portal.

To ask for a free site location plan or paper application form:


Call: 01332 640795 (selecting option five)

We aim to decide tree work in conservation area applications in around six weeks; tree work to trees protected by a TPO in around eight weeks. We grant permission for most applications but, if we refuse a TPO tree works application, you have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment. We will explain how to do this if you receive the notice of refusal. For tree work in conservation area applications we either raise no objection to the proposed works, or if we don’t agree with the proposed works and the tree has special visual importance, we put a TPO on the tree. You then have the right to object to us making the TPO. If you object, then our Planning Control Committee decide whether to confirm the TPO or not

Other useful information

You may find it helpful to consult a qualified tree surgeon to help you. The Arboricultural Association website, the professional body for tree surgeons, lists registered consultants and approved contractors. Or you can look under ‘Tree Work’ in telephone directories to find a qualified tree surgeon.

The International Society of Arboriculture website has advice on tree care.

You can also read about the techniques our Arboricultural Officers use when they do work on trees we are responsible for.

Published: 21st February 2017