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Guide Works to East Devon trees

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2. Works to trees applications

When is an application needed?

An application is needed to carry out works on trees which are protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) or within a conservation area, or if their retention is part of a condition within a planning application.

You can check if a tree is in a conservation area by completing our on-line form.To find out whether the trees are subject to a TPO or planning condition please contact our customer services on 01395 571710 or email 

Our written consent must be obtained before any works start on trees identified as being protected.

How do I make a works to trees application?

An application can be submitted on-line using the Planning Portal.  For tree works in a conservation area or a TCA/TPO the application cost is free.

You need to provide an accurate and detailed description of the proposed works and to indicate the extent of any intended pruning. Pruning is often expressed in terms of percentage crown reduction and/or thinning.  If other works are proposed, such as crown lifting, pollarding and reduction in length of specific branches, it is important to indicate the extent of these works.  The full reasons for wanting to carry out tree works need to be provided and broad statements such as ‘in the interests of good arboricultural practice’ are unlikely to be sufficient.  If it is alleged that trees are hazardous or causing damage to property, any supporting evidence should be included with the application.

If it is felt that trees are exempt from the usual requirements of the legislation (on the grounds that they are dead or dangerous), it is necessary to give us five day’s notice of intent to prune or remove the trees (except in a genuine emergency).  Our Tree Officer will then inspect the trees to ascertain whether they are considered to be exempt.  If a tree is removed under this exemption, there is a legal duty to plant a replacement tree at or near the same place.

Please follow the Government Guidance to ensure your application is fully completed and is clear, accurate and concise. The recipient of your application who does not know your property needs to be able to clearly identify the location of the tree(s). Many applications are rejected because it is not clear

  • who the applicant is
  • who owns the tree
  • where the tree is in proximity to a property. Producing a sketch of the location of the tree will help - see example - and adding a photograph when submitting your application.
  • Why the works to trees is required. If there is a defect and it has been inspected by an arboriculturist, attach their report or comments. Clearly describe why you require the works.
  • Contact details are missing. Phone numbers and emails of the tree owner (if known) and applicant are required so access to the tree can be arranged. 

What happens if I carry out works on a protected tree without permission?

If a tree which is the subject of a TPO or situated in a conservation area is felled without our permission, you could be liable for a fine of up to £20,000 on summary conviction, or an unlimited fine on indictment. If a tree is pruned without permission, you could be fined up to £2,500.

If in doubt as to whether permission is needed, please contact our customer service team on 01395 571710 or email

Works to a neighbour's privately owned tree(s)

The council is unable to help in dealing with complaints regarding trees on private property as we do not have responsibility for them. This is a civil matter which would need to be resolved with the owner of the tree. Advice can be sort from a suitably qualified arboriculturalist.

Please see our guide to trees on private land for further information.

Further information