Tree protection and regulations

Working on trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or within a conservation area, including reporting unauthorised works and common law rights.

About protected trees

Trees can be protected in one of two ways:

Trees with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) protects one or more trees of any species that make a significant positive impact on their local surroundings. A TPO makes it a criminal offence to carry out any of the following to a protected tree without our permission:

  • cut down
  • uproot
  • top, lop or prune
  • otherwise wilfully damage or destroy.

There are some exceptions, such as if the work has to be carried out in an emergency because there is an immediate risk of serious harm, or if you are simply removing dead branches.

Find out if a tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

You should first check our interactive planning map to see if a tree is protected. If you're still unable to find out, please complete this simple form and we can let you know:

Find out if a tree is protected

Trees in conservation areas

All trees within a conservation area that have a stem or trunk width greater than 75 millimetres when measured at 1.5 metres from ground level are protected.

Buy a copy of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) document

You can request a copy of a TPO below, which will cost you £25 and can be paid for during your application. You will need to know the reference number of the TPO. You can get this by using the interactive planning map, or by asking us to check for you.

Request and pay for a copy of a Tree Preservation Order

Trees in conservation areas

In recognition of the special contribution of trees, conservation area legislation introduced in 1967 includes the blanket protection of all trees in a conservation area which have a stem diameter greater than 75mm (3 inches) when measured at 1.5 metres (5 feet) above ground level.

Find out if a tree is in a conservation area

Search the interactive planning map

You should first check our interactive planning map to see if a tree is within a conservation area.

View pdf conservation area appraisals

All of the 105 conservation areas in the East Riding have conservation area appraisals (apart from South Cave), which include a plan showing their boundaries. You can check whether a tree/property is inside a conservation area by looking at the plan for the relevant settlement, which is normally the final page(s) of the appraisal.

Still not sure?

Find out if a tree is protected

Carrying out work on a protected tree

You must get permission from the council before carrying out work to a protected tree either located in a conservation area or subject to either a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Unless work is urgently necessary because there is an immediate risk of serious harm, then you must notify us before carrying out any work to a protected tree. How much notice you need to provide depends on the situation:

  • If the protected tree is living but has dead branches, you are allowed to remove these without notifying us.
  • For other works on trees protected by a TPO, we have up to 8 weeks to deal with your application.
  • For trees protected in a conservation area, you must give us 6 weeks' written notice before carrying out the work.

There is currently no charge for this service.


Make an application for tree works on the Planning Portal website

You must provide a full, clear and detailed specification of what work you intend to carry out to the tree. Ideally this guidance should be provided by a professional tree surgeon or arborist in accordance with British Standard 3998.

Please note: dead trees and branches can provide very valuable habitats for plants and wildlife, which may also be protected under other laws. As long as it doesn't cause a danger, it can be good practice to retain the lower part of the trunk on dead trees to conserve biodiversity.

Not sure if the tree is protected?

If you don't know if the tree is protected, report the issue below, and we will find out:

Report an issue with a tree.

Trees causing structural damage

If you have an insurance policy for your building, you should first consider contacting them. If the damage isn't covered by an insurance policy or you do not wish to go down this route, you could instead consider contacting a structural engineer to determine if the tree is responsible.

Before carrying out any work on a tree, you should first approach the owner if it is not yours. You may wish to seek legal advice if the owner is unwilling to act.

Unauthorised tree cutting

If you cut down, uproot or wilfully destroy a protected tree, or wilfully damage (including cutting roots), top or lop a tree in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £20,000 for each offence. In determining the amount of the fine, the court will take account of the actual, or likely, financial benefit arising from the offence. For other offences you could be fined up to £2,500. You will normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was removed or destroyed.

Report unauthorised work to a protected tree

To report works being carried out on protected trees that you do not believe have received the consent from the council, please complete the form:

Report works being carried out on protected trees

Wildlife concerns

Many wildlife habitats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which makes it an offence to kill, injure or take animals, including their young, eggs or nests. For some species, such as bats, it is also an offence to interfere with places used for shelter or protection.

Non-urgent work to trees should be avoided during the bird nesting and breeding season, which is usually between 1st March and 31st August. If in doubt, you are advised to consult an expert so they can carry out an appropriate wildlife survey.

If you suspect an offence has been committed in relation to wild birds or any other protected species, then you should report the incident to your local police force on the 101 non-emergency telephone number.

Read more on GOV.UK's Legislation website:

Advice for home buyers

If you are buying a new property, an official search of the local land charges register can be made before the purchase which should reveal if the property is located within a conservation area (or whether there are any tree preservation orders). Make sure your solicitor tells you if any trees are protected or covered by planning conditions.

Specialist advice for developers

We are able to offer specialist advice for new developments in a conservation area. These include:

  • landscaping
  • visual impact
  • ecology
  • trees
  • nature conservation
  • listed building matters.

If you last used your account on or before Tuesday 1 August 2023 you will need to register again. Please continue, and follow the instructions when prompted.

Request specialist pre-application advice for protected and historic environments

View planning applications relating to tree works

You can view applications relation to the following:

  1. Work to trees within a TPO
  2. Works to trees within a conservation area, and
  3. Works to TDD on Public Access

The process for viewing tree work consent applications is the same as for viewing planning applications and are available on the Public Access website.

Read more about viewing planning applications.

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