Trees

Trees and woodlands play an important part in our town and country landscapes. Cornwall Council has powers to protect trees and woodlands where they make an important contribution to a public amenity and where they are considered to be at risk. Public amenity can be described as the benefit to, or enjoyment by the public.

Find out how trees are dealt with in the planning system and what it means if your tree is protected.

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Before you carry out any work on a tree, please check the online map to find out if the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), or if it is within a conservation area. 

View the Tree Preservation Order Interactive Map

Green dots relate to individual trees, whereas the green shading will relate to a group, area or woodland. 

Purple hatching shows where there is a Conservation Area.

The mapping overlay shows the position of the trees at the time the order was made.

Please note that changes including felling and replanting may have occurred since this time.

Although the system is updated, new Orders will not become visisble on the map automatically, therefore a new Order may be in force, but is not viewable on the system.

We advise anyone using the system to take a dated screen shot as evidence of their check.

If you have any queries please contact planninghouseholder@cornwall.gov.uk.

It is a criminal offence to prune, cut down or damage a protected tree without following the correct procedures, which can result in substantial fines.  

A useful guide about tree preservation orders and tree protection is produced by the Communities and Local Government Department.

Outside a garden, the felling of more than five cubic metres of timber may require a felling license from the Forestry Commission. They can be contacted on 01392 834242.

Within a conservation area, trees that have a stem diameter which is bigger than 75 mm when measured at a height of 1.5 metres above ground level are subject to statutory protection.

Before you carry out any work to a tree you need to give the council 6 weeks notice of your intention to do so. The notice can be given by completing the apply to work on protected trees form below or by email to planninghouseholder@cornwall.gov.uk. This allows the council to make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and stop the works if they are harmful to a public space or the character of the conservation area.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) may apply to any tree, group of trees or woodlands that make an important contribution to a public amenity.  Before any work can take place to a tree that is subject to a tree preservation order, you must apply for consent to carry out work to the tree by completing the application form below.  

To find out if a tree, or group of trees, is protected please check on the online map found under Protected Trees.

The council is able to make new TPO’s at any time if it feels that important trees are under threat.  The council has the freedom to decide when trees are important and when it would be necessary to protect them.

The appropriate test for making a TPO is that the loss or damage to the tree (or trees) would cause significant harm to a public space.

Individuals or organisations can request that the Council consider making a TPO by completing the ‘Request a Tree Preservation Order’ form.

It is important that you read the national guide to tree applications and Cornwall councils tree works application submission guide before completing the form.  

Apply online to work on protected trees

Applications should provide a detailed description of the proposed works and set out why you wish to carry out the work.

Pruning should be measured as a distance however when crown thinning is proposed, it should be measured as a percentage. Examples are given below:

  • Reduce the height from 15 metres to 13 metres.
  • Reduce the spread of the crown to 5 metres (measured from the stem) on its southern side only.
  • Thin the crown by 15 %.
  • Raise the crown to a height of 3 metres above ground level.

In addition to the application form, it is also useful to include photographs of the trees with the proposed work clearly marked on them.  A plan showing the location of the tree/s is also likely to be necessary.

The Council has 6 weeks to make a decision about Conservation Area notices and once registered, 8 weeks to make a decision about TPO applications.

The Forestry Officers will provide what advice they can over the telephone and will visit the property once an application has been made.  They are not able to provide pre-application advice. If you would like further advice you can speak to a Arboriculturalist. The Arboricultural Association produces a list of approved contractors and consultants that you can contact.

Some work to protected trees does not need to follow the normal procedures for a Tree Preservation Order and Conservation Areas. The cutting down of dead or dangerous trees and the removal of dead or dangerous branches of otherwise healthy or safe trees are the most common exceptions.

For more information about exceptions please follow links to the Council's dead and dangerous tree advice note and the guide to tree preservation procedures.

Before you:

  • prune or cut down a tree that presents an urgent and serious safety risk
  • cut down a dead tree

you must complete a dead and dangerous tree notice form or email the planning householder team to let them know about the work that you are planning to do.  You must give at least 5 days written notice. If the work is so urgent that it is not possible to provide notice before hand, please read the dead and dangerous tree advice note for information on how to continue.

If you wish to:

  • cut down a dying tree
  • remove dying branches from a tree

you will now need to make a written application by email or letter for consent from the planning householder team as carrying out this work now requires formal approval.

Ash Dieback is a new disease to Britain that has hit the news, it can be found in recently planted woodlands and old established trees.  To find out more,  please see our Ash Dieback webpage and our Ash Dieback and Planning Advice Note.

Statutory undertakers are companies and agencies who have legal rights to carry out certain development and highways works.  Certain exceptions to tree protection apply to statutory undertakers such as Western Power and contractors working on their behalf, which are as follows:

Trees can be cut down, topped, lopped or uprooted by or at the request of a statutory undertaker, where the land on which the tree sits is operational land and the work is necessary -

  • so they can work safely
  • in connection with the inspection, repair or renewal of any sewers, mains, pipes, cables or other apparatus of the statutory undertaker;
  • to enable them to carry out development permitted by or under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995

In these circumstances the necessary work may continue without consent from, Cornwall Council.  It will up to the statutory undertaker or their contractor to demonstrate that the work was an exception if challenged.

Where trees have high amenity value and the proposed works will have a significant impact then the statutory undertaker may discuss the options with the Council’s Forestry Officer.

The following information may be helpful in identifying diseases and other problems which may affect trees.

For new developments the council has a duty to make arrangements for the protection and planting of trees.  Developments should be designed to ensure that existing and new trees compliment the development without reducing the occupant's enjoyment.

When trees may be affected by a development the planning application should be accompanied by a tree survey which is written in accordance with the British Standard 5837, trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations.

When designing a layout where trees are nearby the following factors must be addressed:

  • Important trees are kept wherever possible.
  • Future growth of the trees are predicted and planned for.
  • Trees which are kept can be protected within a Construction Exclusion Zone.
  • Buildings, services, roads and driveways occur outside the exclusion zones.
  • Enough space will need to be made available for the development to be carried out, for example for access, scaffolding site huts, plant and machinery and storage without impacting on the exclusion zones.
  • The new properties will need to be in harmony with the retained and newly planted trees so that the new occupants are not caused unreasonable inconvenience for example, by shade or overhanging branches.

TPO's and planning conditions may be used in connection with a successful planning application to ensure that the trees are protected.

Developers are encouraged to speak to the council before submitting a planning application.  If the development has implications for trees it is helpful for everyone involved that these issues are identified and where possible resolved as early as possible.