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Find out about protected trees and hedges

Forest

Many trees are important as they make places look nice or improve the local environment. We want to protect these trees from being cut down or changed unnecessarily. There are two ways we do this:

  • Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
  • conservation areas

If you want to cut back or cut down a tree protected by either of these measures, you need to take extra steps. If you do not follow these steps, your work will be illegal, and we can prosecute you.

Check if a protected tree affects your plans

  • type your postcode into the search box and find your address
  • click on the 'My Maps' tab
  • click on the 'Planning' filter
  • select 'Conservation areas' and 'Tree Preservation Orders' to see both on the map

Often, planning permission includes conditions designed to protect trees. You cannot work on a tree if this is the case. Instead, you need to apply for the 'removal or variation of conditions' on the Planning Portal.

Apply for the removal or variation of conditions

In some cases, you must still follow extra rules even if the tree you want to cut down is not protected. If you want to cut down a tree that is not in your own garden, you must get a felling licence from the Forestry Commission.

When can I work to a protected tree?

Before you do anything to a protected tree, you should check with us first. It's always best to make sure the work you do is allowed. If you do anything which is not authorised, we could prosecute you.

The owner of a protected tree can only cut it back or cut it down if:

  • they need to do so to follow a legal responsibility
  • the tree is in the way of a new development and the planning permission says work can be done to the tree
  • the tree is in a commercial orchard
  • the tree is a fruit tree and they're pruning it in line with good horticultural practice
  • changing the tree will prevent or control a legal nuisance
  • they have a felling licence from the Forestry Commission
  • the tree is being trimmed as part of the Forestry Commission's woodland grant scheme.

I want to work on a tree covered by a Tree Preservation Order

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) make it illegal to work on protected trees without our permission. TPOs can apply to all sorts of trees, including the ones which make up hedgerows. We can also use them to protect groups of trees or entire woodlands.

If you want to carry out work on a protected tree, you must make an 'Application for Tree Works' on the Planning Portal. Make sure you include photos of the tree which clearly show where it is.

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, we may not be able to arrange a site inspection.

Apply for tree works

I live in a conservation area

Not all trees in a conservation area are protected by a TPO. You still have to give us six weeks' notice before you do any work to them. We'll check your plans do not harm the appearance of the area or pose any risks to the environment. Make sure you include photos of the tree which clearly show where it is. You must not start work until you've got written approval from us.

These rules do not apply if you want to work on small trees. Measure the tree trunk at 1.5 metres above the ground. If its diameter is less than 75 millimetres, you will not need our written consent to do work. If you want to remove small trees to help other ones grow, the trunk can be larger. In this case, its diameter can be up to 100 millimetres at 1.5 metres above ground level.

The tree is dead, dying, or dangerous

If the tree is dead, dying or dangerous, you need to give us at least five working days' notice before you do any work. Send an email to customerservices@guildford.gov.uk. Make sure you give us:

  • a description of what you want to do
  • a sketched plan which shows the tree's location
  • photographs of the tree

Please also tell us if you know what species the tree is. This will help us make a note of the work you've done. The more information you send us, the easier it is to make sure we record your work correctly. This means you're protected from being prosecuted for doing unauthorised work.

I want to remove a hedge

You can remove or change a hedge in or at the border of your house without permission. However, many other hedgerows are protected by law. You cannot remove or destroy hedges that are at least 30 years old and also:

  • mark pre-1850 parish or township boundary.
  • incorporate or are associated with an archaeological site.
  • mark the boundary of, or are associated with, a pre-1600 estate or manor.
  • form an integral part of a pre-parliamentary enclosed field system.
  • contain certain species of birds, animals or plants listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
  • include between five and seven woody species in a 30-metre length.
  • include at least four woody species on average in a 30-metre length and run along a:
    • bridleway
    • footpath
    • road used as a public path, or
    • byway

If you want to work on these hedges, you must apply for a Hedgerow Removal Notice on the Planning Portal.

Apply for a hedgerow removal notice

You can find out more information about works to hedges on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website.

We have a dedicated webpage for if you want to report high hedges.

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