Why Protect Trees?
Trees can have important positive visual amenity values and can make an important contribution to the local environment, creating a varied, interesting and attractive landscape. They can help define the aesthetic character of an area and create a sense of place. Trees can help to screen and integrate development.
Tree Preservations Orders (TPOs) are imposed in order to protect selected trees or woodland if their removal is likely to have a significant impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public.
The Council has a specific duty in relation to trees under the Planning (Trees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015.
What is a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)?
A TPO is an operational tool that can provide additional protection for specified existing trees groups of trees or woodland.
Section 122 (1) of the Planning Act (NI) 2011 sets out the legislative tests.
Where it appears to a council that it is expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the preservation of trees or woodlands in its district, it may for that purpose make an order (in this Act referred to as a ‘tree preservation order’) with respect to such trees, groups of trees or woodlands as may be specified in the order.
The Order itself is a legal document that makes it a direct criminal offence under Section 126 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 to remove or carry out tree works to a protected tree.
Whilst likely to be rarely considered an appropriate operational tool to protect existing trees a Tree Preservation Order remains a discretional operational planning power. Mid Ulster’s Planning Department will only consider making an Order where existing trees are of exceptional aesthetic landscape quality and there is clear written evidence that the additional protection is in the interest of public amenity and is deemed expedient by the Local Authority.
Proposed development on land subject to a Full or Confirmed Tree Preservation Order will require specific arboricultural methodology statement, assessment, and landscape plans to be submitted as part of a planning application.
A Full or Confirmed Tree Preservation Order made on lands will not prevent natural changes to existing trees. The Order simply prevents landowners from completing maintenance tree works without written consent from the Planning Department.
A Tree Preservation Order will rarely be considered an appropriate operational tool to protect existing trees located in the countryside.
Where the Planning Department has made an Order on existing tree(s), no remedial tree works permitted, unless there has been a request for written consent for required tree works, agreed in writing by the Planning Department.
There are specific procedures for remedial tree work and required consent.
What types of trees are covered?
The order can cover anything from a single tree to a woodland. Unless a woodland TPO is proposed, only trees over 3.5m in height are eligible for a TPO.
A TPO will not apply to hedges, bushes, shrubs and fruit trees.
Requesting a Tree Preservation Order Assessment
You can request a Tree Preservation Order assessment online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or from our Council offices in Magherafelt.
It is important to note that no request will be considered unless a completed written application form is received by the Planning Department.