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Protected and dangerous trees

Cornwall Council has the power to protect trees where they:

  • make an important contribution to public visual amenity
  • are considered to be at risk

Public visual amenity can be described as a visual benefit to, or enjoyment by the public.

On this page you can find out how trees are dealt with in the planning system and what it means if a tree is protected or dangerous.

Identify protected trees

Before you carry out any work on a tree, please find out if the tree is:

  • protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
  • within a conservation area

You can do this by checking the online map below.

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

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 automatically become visible on the map. Therefore a new Order may be in force, but 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

Please read this Government guide about tree preservation orders and tree protection.

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. 

Apply for consent or give notice to work on protected trees

It is important that you read these documents before completing the form:

Apply online to work on protected trees

Applicants should provide a detailed description of the proposed works and set out why they 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.  This may help your application being determined more quickly.  A plan showing the location of the tree/s is also likely to be necessary.

Decision timescales and advice

The Council has 6 weeks to make a decision about Conservation Area notices. Once registered the Council has 8 weeks to make a decision about TPO applications.

An officer may visit the property once an application has been made but they are not able to provide pre-application advice.

If you would like further advice you can speak to an Arboriculturalist. The Arboricultural Association produces a list of approved contractors and consultants that you can contact.

Tree Preservation Orders

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) may apply to any:

  • individual tree
  • group
  • areas of trees or woodlands

that make an important contribution to a public visual amenity.

A joint statement by the Environment and Planning & Sustainable Development Services was issued in September 2020.  This note provides guidance on the proper use of Tree Preservation Orders. 

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.

Apply using the Planning Portal websiteTo find out if a tree, or group of trees, is protected please check on the map.

Identify protected trees on our map

New Tree Preservation Orders

The Council is able to make new TPOs 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 by undertaking an amenity assessment.

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

Individuals and organisations can request that the Council consider making a TPO. They can do this by completing the online form.

Request a Tree Preservation OrderTrees in Conservation Areas

Within a Conservation Area, trees are subject to statutory protection if they have a stem diameter which is bigger than 75 mm. This is when measured at a height of 1.5 metres above ground level on the main stem.

Before you carry out any work to a tree you need to give the Council 6 weeks prior notice of your intention to do so.

The notice can be given by:

This allows the Council an opportunity to make a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) if we wish to prevent the works from being undertaken as we are not able to issue a refusal.

Report unauthorised work

If you think that unauthorised work to trees has taken place within a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation Area, you can report it using this link:

Report a breach of planning control

Dead and dangerous trees

Not all work to be carried out on protected trees is required to follow the normal procedures. This can be for either a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation Areas.

The most common exceptions are:

  • the cutting down of dead or dangerous trees
  • the removal of dead or dangerous branches of otherwise healthy or safe trees

For more information about exceptions please read these documents:

You may need to prune or cut down a tree that presents an urgent and serious safety risk or cut down a dead tree.

However, before you do, you should complete a dead and dangerous tree notice online form, giving the Council as much prior notice as is reasonably practicable.

Report a dead and dangerous tree

Sometimes, the work is so urgent that it is not possible to provide notice before hand. In such cases, please read the dead and dangerous tree advice note for information on how to continue.

You may wish to cut down a dying tree or remove dying branches from a tree. If so, you will now need to submit a full tree works application.  This is because carrying out this work is no longer regarded as an Exception.

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