Bedford Borough Council has duties and responsibilities under
the Town and Country Planning Act, Government Regulations and
Circulars to protect trees within its administrative area in the
interest of amenity. These duties and responsibilities extend
to making Tree Preservation Orders, which in general makes it an
offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy a
tree without the Borough Council's written permission, and to
special provisions for trees within conservation areas. The maximum
fine for the wilful destruction of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
or conservations area tree (TCA) is £20,000 per tree, Wilful damage
carries the maximum fine of £2,500 per tree.
Trees that grow in Council owned property or on public open
spaces are also protected as they are deemed as Council Property.
Anyone willfully damaging these can be prosecuted.
Finding out if a tree is protected or in a
Please click on the links below to see the Tree Preservation
Order register and the Conservation Areas in Bedford Borough
Requesting tree advice
If you would like to discuss potential works to a tree that
is protected or in a conservation area you can do this by
submitting a pre-application enquiry. The full details of how
to do this can be found by clicking on the following
link Pre-application Advice
Please note that there is a fee applicable for this advice.
Works to trees under Tree Preservation
The written consent of the Borough
Council is required for cutting down or carrying out work on trees
protected by a TPO. However, there are a number of exemptions
- Dead dying or dangerous trees. A TPO does not prevent
cutting down or other tree works being undertaken on trees which
are dead, dying or dangerous. This exemption additionally covers
the removal of dead wood from a tree or the removal of dangerous
branches from an otherwise sound tree. There is no statutory
requirement to notify the Borough Council but anyone who intends to
fell a tree or carry out major works under this exemption is
requested to give the Local Planning Authority five days notice
before carrying out the work, except in an emergency. It is wise to
seek independent professional advice before undertaking works in
the scope of this exemption as the onus of proof of condition of
the tree in any legal proceedings lies with the owner. There is a
duty to replant where trees have been felled.
- Statutory obligations imposed by Act of Parliament.
- Land subject to a forestry dedication covenant under the
Forestry Act 1967.
- Land subject to the grant of planning permission where the
development directly affects the trees.
- Fruit trees cultivated for fruit production in an orchard or
- Trees on land owned by statutory undertakers listed in the
Legislation where works on the land cannot otherwise be
undertaken or the reason for the works relates to safety purposes.
(Electricity companies are additionally permitted to cut down or
carry out any work on trees which obstruct the construction of an
electric line or interfere with the maintenance or working of an
A planning application for works to a protected tree(s) is
free of charge.
To access the TPO planning application form please click
Works to trees in Conservation Areas
Trees in conservation areas which are already protected by a TPO
are subject to the normal TPO controls. Trees which are not covered
by a TPO are the subject of a special provision in the legislation.
Any felling or other works to trees in conservation areas may only
be carried out following a six week period of notice given to the
Borough Council if consent is given within that period.
A planning application for works to a tree(s) in a conservation
area is free of charge.
To access the TCA planning application form please click
Making Tree Preservation Orders
Tree Preservation Order powers are used selectively
in accordance with Government advice. Under the Town and Country
Planning Act the Borough Council may make a TPO if it appears to
them to be:
"Expedient in the interests of amenity to make provision for the
preservation of trees in their area".
Government advice provides the following:
- TPO's may be used to protect selected trees and woodlands, that
if removed, would have a significant impact on the environment and
its enjoyment by the public.
- A reasonable degree of public benefit must accrue from the
creation of a TPO.
- Trees should normally be visible from a public place (such as a
road or footpath) although exceptionally other trees may be
- The benefit may be present or future (for example, when
proposed development has taken place).
- The trees are worthy of preservation for their intrinsic beauty
or for their contribution to the landscape.
- The trees screen an eyesore or a site for new
- The trees have scarcity value.
- The trees are a part of a valued group.
- Other factors (such as importance as a wildlife habitat) may be
taken into account, which alone would not be sufficient to warrant
Importantly, although a tree may merit protection on
amenity grounds Government advice is that it is not necessary to
make a TPO to protect it, unless, the Borough Council believe it is
at risk of being cut down either immediately or at some time
in the future.
If it appears that judged on the above criteria that the
making of a TPO is justified, the Borough Council will also
need to be satisfied, following a detailed inspection, that:
- the tree has a reasonable life expectancy, and
- the tree is sound, healthy and free from disease or serious
- the tree is not causing structural damage to existing
buildings, utility services or public highways and is not likely to
do so in the near future, and
- the tree will not cast excessive shade or otherwise interfere
with occupier's reasonable enjoyment or property, and
- there are no issues of public safety or other impediment.