Protected trees and other restrictions

Tree Preservation Orders and conservation areas

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a form of planning control that protects trees which make a significant contribution to the amenity of the area. TPOs are usually made to protect trees which are visually prominent, but factors such as wildlife value, rarity or cultural significance can also be taken into account.

The making of a TPO is often prompted when trees are under a known or suspected threat of being cut down or damaged. They are sometimes also made following notification of works in a conservation area. Trees in a conservation area that are over 75 millimetres stem diameter at 1.5 metres above ground level are protected in a very similar way to TPO trees.

Find out if a tree is protected

More information about TPOs and conservation areas

TPO paper copies cost £17. To order, please email giving your details, the site location and the TPO reference number. We will be in contact to arrange payment and to let you know when you can expect to receive the document.

Unauthorised work to protected trees

It is illegal to cut down, prune, or damage a tree in a conservation area or one which is protected by a TPO, without our consent. The unauthorised lopping or felling of a protected tree is a serious criminal offence and can result in a large fine and a criminal record.

Wycombe District Council takes several people to court each year for illegal work to protected trees. Fines can be up to £20,000 per tree plus costs, a requirement to replace the tree and a criminal record.

If you are aware of unauthorised work to a protected tree please report it:

Apply for consent to work on a protected tree

Apply online

You can apply online through Planning Portal for consent for tree works.

Apply by post

Alternatively, you may wish to download and print out the form and guidance notes through Planning Portal and send them in to us:

Please ensure that the details you put down are as clear and precise as possible, otherwise we may have to return your form.

Who pays for work to protected trees?

Individual landowners have a legal duty of care to ensure their trees are maintained in a safe condition and must carry out works at their own expense. We will not pay for works to a protected tree other than those which we own.

Dead or imminently dangerous protected trees

If a protected tree (or part of tree) is dead, or there is an imminent risk of it causing serious harm, that tree (or part of tree) can be removed without submitting an application. However, the tree owner or contractor must give us five days' notice in writing of the intention to carry out the exempted works.

You may give us written notice by post to Trees, Wycombe District Council, Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP11 1BB, or by email to

Please include photographs of the tree(s), a location plan and details of the reason why you think it is dead or dangerous.

We may make a site visit to examine the dead or dangerous trees. It should also be noted that there is a duty to replace trees removed under exemption.

Felling licences

Felling licences issued by the Forestry Commission controls the quantity of timber that can be felled. Trees in private gardens are exempt from this control. Contact the Forestry Commission to find out if you need a license and obtain an application form.

Protected wildlife

Trees and hedges provide homes, food, and a way to travel across the countryside to many species of animal, bird or insect. Whilst all wildlife is important, some species are legally protected. Protected species which are often found in trees and hedges include nesting birds and bats. Birds tend to nest between March and August and so particular care must be taken to ensure that they, and their nests, are not disturbed. Bats roost in trees but they are often very hard to find as they hide in holes, cracks under lose bark or amongst ivy.

You must ensure that bats will not be disturbed, but if they are found during work, stop and contact the Bat Conservation Trust on: 0845 1300228.

Other things to consider

Sometimes there are other restrictions on works that can be done to trees. Perhaps there is a covenant which restricts what work you can do or perhaps there is a landlord and tenant agreements in place. Wycombe District Council will not know about these private agreements and so you should check your deeds or talk to your landlord for more information.

Contact information

Contact the tree officer by webform.


  • Telephone: 01494 461 000