Trees and hedges

Protected trees

Many trees in the District are protected and you generally need our consent to carry out work on them.

You will need to complete a tree work application in order to carry out any work on a protected tree. 

We recommend that you get professional advice  from an arborist or tree surgeon before planning any works.

In very few circumstances, permission to carry out works is not needed. These include:

  • When trees are cut down in connection with a Forestry Commission Grant Scheme, or where the Forestry Commission has granted a Felling Licence
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree which presents an imminent and serious safety risk
  • Cutting down a dead tree
  • The cutting down or pruning of a tree that has already been approved by us by being included as part of a detailed planning permission
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree to prevent or control a legal nuisance
  • Cutting down or pruning a tree in line with a statutory obligation under an Act of Parliament
  • Removing dead branches from a living tree (whilst taking care not to cut into any live portions of the tree)

If you are cutting down a tree that is a safety risk, has already been approved as part of your planning permission or because of a legal nuisance or statutory obligation, then you will need to give us at least 5 days written notice. You can do this by emailing planning@southsomerset.gov.uk.

You will need to include evidence of the issue in this notice and specify what you intend to do.

  1. How do I find out if a tree is protected?

    Trees may be protected because they are located within a Conservation Area or are subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

    You can check if a tree is protected by being located within a Conservation Area or is subject to a TPO in our Your Area section.

    If you are purchasing a property, make sure your solicitor tells you if any of the trees are protected by a TPO or Conservation Area designation. If you or your solicitor requires a copy of a Tree Preservation Order document, our legal department is able to arrange this for a modest fee – please contact us.

  2. Making an application for tree works

    If a tree within a Conservation Area is also subject to a Tree Preservation Order, then normal Tree Preservation Order application procedures will apply.

    The same form is used to apply for works to trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order as well as those trees located within a Conservation Area. You might note on the form that slightly more detail is required to validate a TPO application.

    Please be specific about the extent of the proposed work when you make your tree work application. We often have to send forms back because they do not contain enough detail, which can waste a lot of time.

    Bear in mind that if the Council objects to a Conservation Area Notification and we are not able to negotiate a withdrawal or amendment, we may decide to serve a Tree Preservation Order. So please remember to provide us with a daytime telephone number and an e-mail address so we can discuss your proposal if necessary.

    You might prefer to instruct your appointed Arborist (or ‘Tree Surgeon’) to submit the form on your behalf. Find helpful consumer-guidance relating to employing an Arborist here.

    The Planning Portal has guidance on how to complete the tree works form here.

    You can access the tree works form here.

  3. Appealing a Tree Preservation Order decision

    If your application to carry out works on a tree subject to a TPO is refused, or you object to the conditions we impose, you can submit an appeal.

    You must submit your appeal within 28 days of receiving the decision.

    Appeals are decided by The Planning Inspectorate on behalf of The Secretary of State, who may allow or dismiss the appeal; or vary the original decision.

  4. Carrying out unauthorised tree works

    Protected trees are protected below-ground (which includes their roots) as well as above. If you destroy a tree, or damage it in a manner likely to destroy it, you could receive a criminal record and be fined up to £20,000 per tree.

    If the matter goes to the Crown Court, they will consider any financial gain you may have made from the offence when deciding the fine, which could be unlimited.

    For the lesser offence of damage, which is unlikely to destroy a protected tree, you can still receive a criminal record and be fined up to £2,500 per tree.

    You will also have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was cut down or destroyed.

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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