What are Tree Preservation Orders?
Trees are an important and attractive feature of the urban environment and Walsall Council has legal powers to protect them for the benefits they bring.
The council can protect trees by making Tree Preservation Orders meaning that trees protected in this way cannot be pruned or felled without the council's permission. The borough currently over 900 Tree Preservation Orders, each protecting from one tree to whole woodlands. Trees in each of the borough's 18 Conservation Areas have more limited protection.
Most applications to fell and prune trees are decided by the Head of Planning, Engineering and Transportation. In some cases, for example, where there is exceptional public interest, application may be decided by the council's Planning Committee.
While trees can be very attractive they can sometimes cause damage, especially as they mature. The council therefore is careful to maintain the borough's tree cover by securing replacements for protected trees that have to be felled.
Should your trees be 'under control'?
No! Trees grow! Most trees that have been topped or significantly reduced in height and spread will respond with profuse regrowth. This creates a need to prune the trees on a cyclical basis (normally every 3-5 years depending on the response of the tree after pruning) as the regrowth is not securely attached to the tree and is at risk of failure as it gets longer and heavier. In addition, topping trees is detrimental to their health and appearance and the resulting regrowth will be denser than the original. It's better to learn to live with the tree at its natural size and consider other pruning operations (crown thinning or crown lifting) in an attempt to resolve any issues. You may also consider replacing it with a tree which will naturally grow to a smaller size. Problems with leaves, fruit or berries blocking gutters or filling gardens are not reasonable grounds for felling or pruning a protected tree; these are the trees' natural biological functions.
The council will not sanction the 'topping' of trees as this is neither a sustainable form of tree management nor a safe practice. If you are in doubt about what kind of care your tree requires either consult a competent and experienced arborist or visit the Arboricultural Association's website below.
Requesting a Tree Preservation Order
In order to protect trees in the interest of amenity, particularly when they are considered to be at risk, the council can make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). An Order can specify a single tree, groups of trees, areas of trees or woodlands but not hedges or shrubs. Trees do not have to be exceptional or unusual individual specimens to merit inclusion in a TPO, but are assessed on their contribution to amenity and the local landscape. The tree officer will decide whether a tree or a group of trees requires protecting by considering the following criteria:
The condition of the tree(s) and an assessment of future life expectancy
An assessment of the potential threat to the tree and whether it is expedient to make a Tree Preservation Order
A landscape appraisal, which will consider visual prominence, landscape setting, presence of other trees and function and suitability of the tree(s) to the site.
Future benefits the tree might provide, growth potential, age and assessment of wildlife habitat
The effect of a TPO is to make it an offence to damage or destroy, fell, top, lop or uproot the tree(s) covered, unless by consent of the council. There are legal powers the council may use to prosecute offenders. A person who intends to carry out work to a protected tree is required to submit an application for consent under the TPO. Applicants are encouraged to seek the advice of an arboriculturalist before making an application. Please note that your application in full will be part of the public register, may become accessible via the council’s website and can in certain circumstances be copied to neighbours and other third parties.
Tree Preservation Order Register
Walsall Council currently maintains over 900 individual Tree Preservation Orders.
This document is updated quarterly and must not be taken as the definitive list of all Orders within the Borough. Please contact the Natural Environment team to establish whether a tree is protected or not.
Tree Preservation Officer
Other useful contacts
Communities and Local Government Trees and High Hedges
(Government department responsible for trees and high hedges)
Planning, Building and the Environment
(Organisation concerned with arboriculture)
International Society of Arborists: UK and Ireland Chapter
(Organisation concerned with arboriculture)
148 Hydes Road