Some trees and hedgerows are protected. You need our permission before you do any work on them.

Protected Trees

Trees can be protected in three ways:

1. Protection by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
2. Protection by virtue of being located within a Conservation Area
3. Protection by virtue of a condition(s) being attached to an earlier planning permission relating to the site.

So before doing any work, you should contact our Development Control Team to clarify whether the tree(s) are affected in one or more of these ways.  

There are over 500 Tree Preservation Orders that are in force in North West Leicestershire, which you can view on our list Tree Preservation Orders February 2024 (Word Document, 0.1 Mb)

If a tree is protected then consent will be needed from the District Council before works can be undertaken to the tree.  

For consent to carry out works to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order or within a conservation area, you can download the relevant form (PDF Document, 0.54 Mb) and Tree Guidance Note (PDF Document, 0.18 Mb), or apply online via the Planning Portal.

We would advise you to seek the advice of a qualified and insured tree professional.  The Arboricultural Association offer a list of Approved Contractors and Consultants.  

Further details are set out below in respect of what to do when works are urgently necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm arising from a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order or by virtue of being in a Conservation Area.

The Government's website provides further advice on tree protection issues - including a guide to tree preservation procedures

Please note that it is a criminal offence to carry out works to a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order / protected by virtue of being in a Conservation Area unless an application has been submitted to the Council to carry out the works and that application has been approved, or a five day notice exemption (see below) applies.   

Getting a Tree Protected

If you consider that a tree is worthy of protection, please write or email us  identifying the tree in question and outlining why you consider it should be protected.

General Tree Advice

Trees are the responsibility of whoever owns the land.  The owner of the land is responsible for the maintenance of the trees.  The responsibility to remedy a tree hazard rests solely with the tree owner and not the Council (unless the Council owns the tree), and this includes trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order and/or in a Conservation Area. 

Matters relating to trees, including tree safety, are a civil matter to be resolved by the tree owner and the person(s) affected by the trees, unless highway users are at risk (which would be dealt with by Leicestershire County Council). 

As such it is the tree owner’s responsibility to carry out whatever work is necessary to make trees safe in an emergency situation and/or to carry out any other works to the trees.  The consent of the tree owner will be required before any works are carried out to any tree. We would therefore advise you to seek the advice of a qualified and insured tree professional.  The Arboricultural Association offer a list of Approved Contractors and Consultants.

Consent will also be required from the District Council if the tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or by virtue of being in a Conservation Area - see further details above and below.

The Council is therefore unable to assist in any assessment of the health or condition of trees, and will not visit sites to view trees or discuss proposed works to trees, nor will the District Council carry out works to trees, irrespective of whether the trees are protected or not.  

The Council can only get involved in tree matters and visit sites if unauthorised works are being or have been carried out to a protected tree, an application has been submitted to the Council to carry out works to a protected tree, an application has been submitted under the High Hedges legislation or the Council owns the tree.   

Officers have no delegated powers in respect of Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and cannot intervene on behalf of aggrieved neighbours.

If the trees are not owned by the Council and are not in the public highway (see below), then you would need to contact the Land Registry to find out who owns the land, as the Council does not hold records of landownership.

If the trees are protected then we recommended that you seek your own independent arboricultural advice and then submit a formal application for works to trees in a Conservation area of works to a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order.  You can download the relevant form (PDF Document, 0.54 Mb) and Tree Guidance Note (PDF Document, 0.18 Mb), or apply online via the Planning Portal.

There may also be a requirement for a felling licence from the Forestry Commission for the felling of a tree, although there are some exemptions.  Please see below for further information.

Dangerous Trees (which are not Protected) 

From a legal point of view, the responsibility to remedy a hazard rests solely with the tree owner and not the Council. As such it is the tree owners responsibility to carry out whatever work is necessary to make a tree safe in an emergency situation. If you feel that a neighbour's tree may cause a danger to you or your property, we advise you to approach your neighbour directly to make them aware of the issues you are experiencing, and that you seek the advice of a qualified professional. 

The Arboricultural Association offer a list of Approved Contractors and Consultants.

Please also see the information below relating to roadside trees and trees that are close to public rights of way.

Dangerous Trees which are Protected - Five Day Exemption for Works

As set out above, the responsibility to remedy a hazard rests solely with the tree owner and not the Council.  

It is possible for works to be carried out a tree that is not dead and that is protected by a Tree Preservation Order or by virtue of being in a Conservation Area to the extent that the works are urgently necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm, provided the Council is given at least five working days’ notice in writing of the works taking place to the tree, unless the danger is imminent (in which case you must notify the Council as soon as practicable after the works become necessary.)

An immediate risk of harm means there must be a present serious safety risk.  If the danger is not immediate then the tree is not covered by this exemption to the need to obtain consent for the works to the tree from the Council, and a formal application for the works or felling of the tree would need to be submitted to us.   Minimal works to render the tree safe must be carried out under this exception to needing our formal consent, and so it may be possible to carry out other works to the tree that remove an immediate risk of harm (if such harm exists). 

If the works are urgently necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm, then you must inform the Council by giving written notice via email to development.control@nwleicestershire.gov.uk and you must provide evidence of the hazard to the Council.  Such evidence includes photographs of the damage, a plan showing the location of the tree and details of the tree species.  We would advise you to seek the advice of a qualified and insured tree professional.  The Arboricultural Association offer a list of Approved Contractors and Consultants. The Council will provide a written response to the notification within five working days.

You (or the owner or person(s) carrying out the works to the protected tree) should also keep your own records of evidence, should you be challenged so that you can prove the works undertaken were necessary in the interests of safety to make the tree safe.  The Council also maintains a record of all reported and confirmed dangerous trees/branches.  

The consent of the tree owner will also be required before any works are carried out to a protected tree under the five day exemption process.

Where a tree is not covered by the woodland TPO classification and is cut down because there is an urgent necessity to remove an immediate risk of serious harm, the landowner has a duty to plant a replacement tree of an appropriate size and species.

Persons who own and/ or carry out works to protected trees under the guise of safety works without notification to the Council and sending in evidence could be liable to prosecution.

Persons who own and/ or carry out works to protected trees under this process when there was not an immediate risk of harm and/or carry out more than minimal works to render the tree(s) safe could be liable to prosecution.

If a five day exemption is not approved by the District Council, then an application must be submitted to the Council to carry out the works and that application must be approved by the Council before the works can be undertaken.

Trees Blocking your Light and High Hedges

In England there are no restrictions regarding tree height, no rights to light in respect of vegetation, no rights to TV reception or a view.

If a neighbour’s tree is blocking your light you can't force them to cut it down or prune the tree. 

However there is legislation to deal with this issue for some high evergreen or semi-evergreen trees/hedges if they are deemed to be "high hedges". If the trees/hedge are not evergreen or semi-evergreen then the high hedges legislation does not apply and it would be a civil matter.

Please see our webpage about high hedges which explains the above in more detail and who to contact, along with the complaint form and required fee.

The Government's website also contains information regarding high hedges.

Trees Overhanging your Property

If a neighbour's tree or hedge is growing over into your property and is not protected (see list 1-3 at the top of this page), you cannot make them cut it back, but you do have the right to remove any remove overgrowing branches yourself, but only back to the common boundary (eg. your fence) and any cuttings must be offered back to the tree or hedge owner.  This does not give you permission to go on to your neighbour's land to undertake the cutting back.  

Roadside Trees

Trees on roadside verges, roundabouts and pavements are usually the responsibility of Leicestershire County Council who are also responsible for monitoring privately owned roadside trees and liaising with tree owners when maintenance works are required.

The County Council are also responsible for monitoring privately owned roadside trees and liaising with tree owners when maintenance works are required.   The County Council’s website contains more information about this and how to contact them.

Trees Adjacent to Public Rights of Way

Leicestershire County Council may also be able to liaise with tree owners where they overhang or are close to a public right of way when maintenance works are required.

Council and Parish Council Owned Trees

The Council's Parks Team manage trees in the Council's parks and open spaces, whilst Parish and Town Council's are responsible for their own parks and open spaces.

Woodland Trees

The Forestry Commission regulates the felling of trees in woodlands and it is an offence to fell trees without a licence, if an exemption does not apply. More information can be found on the Forestry Commission's website

Felling Licence

Felling any tree in England without a licence from the Forestry Commission where one is required is an offence for which the penalties include being served with a restocking notice and/or prosecution.

Not every tree felling project requires a felling licence. Exemptions can be based on:

  • location;
  • the type of tree work;
  • the volume and diameter of the tree;
  • other permissions already in place;
  • legal and statutory undertakings.

Some of the exemptions from the need for a felling licence are:

  • If immediately required for the purpose of carrying out development authorised by approval of full planning consent
  • Permitted development
  • Trees in gardens, orchards, churchyards or public open space
  • Fruit trees
  • Statutory plant health notice
  • Statutory undertakers
  • Dangerous trees or an actionable nuisance
  • Pruning
  • Felling trees < 8cm stem diameter (dbh)
  • Felling < 5cu.m. of timber for a personal allowance in a calendar quarter

The list above is not a formal list of exemptions.  To check whether a felling licence is required, please refer to Tree felling: getting permission - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and Tree felling licence: when you need to apply - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Further Tree Information

The Woodland Trust site contains a wide range of information on trees, including a Guide to Native and Non-Native Trees.

Hedgerows

Under the terms of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997, you also need our approval for the removal (in whole or in part) of hedgerows where they are on, or run alongside:

  • agricultural land
  • common land
  • land used for forestry
  • land used for the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys
  • a Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest (details of LNRs and SSSIs can be viewed on the Natural England website).

This is simply a general guide to the circumstances in which approval is required. Further advice is  on the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website.

To apply to carry out work to a hedgerow the relevant form, download and complete a Hedgerow Removal Notice and guidance notes.

Last updated: Fri 17 May, 2024 @ 11:12