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Work on trees within conservation areas

Information about the protection of trees, how to get work done on a tree and the costs involved and how to find out if a tree is protected.

How can I find out if a tree is in a conservation area?

All of the 105 conservation areas in the East Riding have conservation area appraisals  (apart from South Cave), which include a plan showing their boundaries.  You can check whether a tree/property is inside a conservation area by looking at the plan for the relevant settlement, which is normally the final page(s) of the appraisal.

Alternatively, you can contact us by email:

Email:  treesandlandscape@eastriding.gov.uk

If you are buying a new property, an official search of the local land charges register can be made before the purchase which should reveal if the property is located within a conservation area (or whether there are any tree preservation orders).

Make sure your solicitor tells you if any trees are protected or covered by planning conditions.

Are all trees growing within a conservation area protected?

In recognition of the special contribution of trees, conservation area legislation introduced in 1967 includes the blanket protection of all trees having a stem diameter greater than 75mm (3 inches) when measured at 1.5 metres (5 feet) above ground level.

Do I need to make a formal application to the council to carry out work to trees in a conservation area?

Anyone proposing to fell, prune, lop or top a tree within a conservation area needs to give the council six weeks’ notice of such intent in writing preferably on the appropriate application form, but this can also be by letter. 

Visit our planning application page  which gives you access to the application forms.

The notification must include details of ownership, location of the trees on a sketch plan and describe the works you intend to carry out.

If you are applying to prune a tree you must specify 'a full, clear and detailed specification of the works applied for'. You may find it helpful to contact an arborist (tree surgeon) to provide guidance on appropriate tree work and accompanying detailed specification, in accordance with British Standard 3998.

Alternatively you can download the application form from this page.

Tree works application form (pdf 558kb opens in new window)

You are advised to note carefully the guidance notes that accompany the application form.

Tree works application - guidance notes (pdf 103kb opens in new window)

Please send letters to:

Trees and Landscape
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
County Hall
Beverley
HU17 9BA

As with tree preservation orders, failure to do so is a criminal offence (see below).

The council, during the six-week period, will consider whether the work is necessary and can proceed, or whether the works would be harmful to the tree or the loss of the tree would be detrimental to the area.

If the council decides to oppose the works for the removal of the tree, then a tree preservation order  will be made before the expiry of the notice period.

How much does an application cost?

There is currently no cost.

What happens if I carry out work on a tree within a conservation area without giving prior notice?

If you cut down, uproot or wilfully destroy a tree, or wilfully damage (including cutting roots), top or lop a tree in a manner likely to destroy it, you could be fined up to £20,000 for each offence.

In determining the amount of the fine, the court will take account of the actual, or likely, financial benefit arising from the offence.

For other offences you could be fined up to £2,500. You will normally have to plant a replacement tree if the tree was removed or destroyed.

Who do I contact if the tree is owned by the council?

The council owns and controls quite a number of trees growing on council owned land including public parks, school grounds and on public highways and it carries out maintenance and tree planting where appropriate.

Read more about how to request the removal of and trimming of trees and hedges.

Where can I view protected tree applications?

View applications through the council’s Public Access website.

Follow the instructions to the “Planning > Simple Search” page. Choose the type of search required and enter the required information into the search box. You can also register your details on this website in order to submit comments against any pending applications.

Please note that to view the documents associated with the application, you will need to select the 'Associated Documents tab' and then select the 'View Associated Documents'.

Public access (external East Riding website)

Facilities are available for you to view current applications on the Public Access website at any of the council's libraries:

Find your nearest library

You can also print copies at a charge:

View library charges

For ease of search you will need either the application reference number, postcode or single line of an address to view the application. A member of the library staff will be able to assist you if required.

What if there is wildlife in the tree?

Birds

Many wildlife habitats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 making it an offence to kill, injure or take wild birds, their young, their eggs or nests. 

Non-urgent major tree work involving tree removal/reduction and hedge cutting operations should not normally be undertaken during the bird nesting/breeding season, which is considered to be from 1 March to 31 August, subject to the species and the season. 

If any proposed works is scheduled to take place in the main bird breeding season the potential impact on nesting birds and the risk of committing an offence is increased. 

Therefore, in such an instance the council would advise that a survey for active bird nests should be carried out.  If active nests are found works should be avoided until the breeding attempt has ended.

Further information can be found at the RSPB website detailed below.

RSPB - Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981- Section 1 (external website)

 

Bats

Bats are European Protected Species and are protected by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). 

It is an offence to kill, injure, or take, any bat. 

It is also an offence to interfere with places used by bats for shelter or protection, or to intentionally disturb bats occupying such places.  The presence of bats or bat roosts is not always obvious and it is recommended that you consult a qualified bat surveyor. 

The Forestry Commission contains more details and guidance. 

Wildlife - Forestry Commission (external website)

How do I report a wildlife offence?

If you suspect an offence is/has been committed in relation to wild birds or a protected species then report the incident to your local police force. 

Ask for the case to be investigated by a Wildlife Crime Officer (WCO) if possible and ask for an incident number so you can go back to them if needed. 

If the offence is on-going report it to the police by telephoning 101.

Will I require a felling licence?

A Forestry Commission felling licence is required for the felling of more than 5m3 of trees in a calendar quarter, excluding garden trees.  For more information please refer to Forestry Commission.

Forestry Commission (external website)

Will I have to plant a replacement tree?

Replacement planting is vital to ensure that your area and the East Riding of Yorkshire remains an attractive place with a healthy environment. 

The council will require replanting where trees protected by a tree preservation order are felled and where it is feasible to do so.  In all other cases, the council will seek to encourage replanting to ensure continuity of natural visual amenity. 

Visual amenity, beauty and diversity of flora in your area is important to its character and the council recommend that all felled trees are replaced with species suitable for the location.

Do I need permission to cut down a dead or dangerous tree that I own?

If there is an immediate risk of serious harm caused by a tree in a conservation area (on the grounds that it is dead), written notice is required as soon as practicable after the work becomes necessary.

If the tree does not pose an immediate risk, anyone proposing to carry out work must give the authority five days notice before carrying out the proposed work.

For further information refer to the Planning Practice Guidance website:

Planning Practice Guidance (external website)

What is my common law right?

If a tree or hedge located on neighbouring land overhangs your property, you can exercise your common law right to prune any overhanging branches, or encroaching roots back to the boundary, providing you do not de-stabilise the tree or hedge, or damage it unduly. 

You must not go beyond the boundary without the tree owners consent and any material removed from the tree or hedge should be offered back to the owner. 

If the tree is protected either by a tree preservation order or is located within a conservation area, you must obtain the consent of the council prior to any works taking place.

How do I deal with a tree causing damage to property?

If you believe trees are causing structural damage to your property, the first step you should take is to contact your buildings insurer.  If the damage is not covered by insurance or you don’t wish to contact your insurance company, you should contact a structural engineer and arboriculturalist to determine whether trees are implicated in the damage. 

You or the tree owner must establish if there are restrictions on carrying out work to the trees ( is the tree protected?), which can include protection by a Tree Preservation Order, being located within a Conservation Area or by a Planning Condition before any work is carried out. In all cases if the trees are not in your ownership, you should first approach the owner to see if they will carry out any works to resolve the problem.  If the owner is unwilling to act you may wish to exercise your common law right  or seek your own legal advice.

What if I don't agree with my neighbour's request to work on my tree?

Please visit the Tree preservation orders page  to find out how to resolve this issue with your neighbour.

How tall can a tree grow?

Trees will naturally grow to the normal mature height for their species and the council has no powers to deal with tall trees unless they fall within the parameters of the High Hedge legislation

Can the council work on private trees?

The council has powers under the Local Miscellaneous Provisions Act to deal with trees on private land when they are considered to be imminently dangerous. 

This is where there is a real danger of them causing damage to property or injury to people and not a perceived danger due it being a tall tree or located close to a building. 

The Local Miscellaneous Provisions Act is a last resort and we would expect you to write to us with your reasons for considering the trees to be imminently dangerous. 

A tree report from a qualified arboriculturist could be provided to prove that your concerns are justified.  The council has no powers to work on private trees that are healthy.

How do I report an enforcement issue?

To report works being carried out on protected trees that you do not believe have received the benefit of consent from the council, please contact us by:

Email:  treesandlandscape@eastriding.gov.uk
Telephone: (01482) 393719

I require further information on trees within conservation areas, who do I contact?

You can contact us by:

E-mail: treesandlandscape@eastriding.gov.uk

Telephone: (01482) 393719 for any other queries. 

What powers does the council have to tackle invasive species (such as Japanese knotweed)?

Visit the Hedgerow regulations page to find out about how the council tackles invasive species.

Last Updated: Thursday, 01 December 2016