Tree works and protection
Find out more about the circumstances in which consent is or is not needed for works to protected trees, and how to make notifications of work or applications for consent.
There are three types of protection which cover trees set out in Planning legislation:
- Tree(s) protected by a Tree Preservation Order
- Tree(s) within a Conservation Area
- Tree(s) protected by Planning condition(s)
When a tree is protected, there are procedures that must be followed before undertaking tree work. You must apply for consent to carry out tree works where there is a TPO, or submit a notification of intention if the tree is within a Conservation Area.
A Tree Preservation Order ("TPO") is a statutory tool used to protect trees and is made by the local authority, under Section 160 of The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, and within the procedures set out in The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation Order and Trees in Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2010. A TPO helps to protect trees which are important to the character of an area. They can be used for individual trees, groups of trees, areas or woodlands.
A TPO prohibits the lopping, topping, cutting down, uprooting, wilful damage (including cutting roots) or wilful destruction to protected tree(s) or woodland without prior formal consent, unless in extenuating circumstances where certain exemptions apply.
It's illegal to carry out tree works without the required permission, and is punishable by a fine up to £20,000.
A TPO gives the Council an opportunity to assess the impact of any proposed work to trees or other operations which may affect them. A TPO is not intended to prevent the sound management of trees and woodlands, but to allow the Council to control works which affect them in order to prevent the loss of public amenity. The Council will assess the proposal and the impact it will have on local amenity. Consent to fell or prune will only be granted if necessary for arboricultural reasons and may require the planting of a replacement tree of appropriate size and species.
Trees within a Conservation Area are protected by law (unless an exemption applies) because they add value to the setting, character and amenity of these areas as places of special architectural or historic interest.
Before carrying out tree works within a Conservation Area, you must submit a notification to the Council with six weeks' notice.
We'll either agree to the work or the Council may choose to protect the tree by creating a TPO. A TPO will be promoted if the trees are of significant public amenity value.
If tree works proceed in a Conservation Area without the required notification, this is a criminal offence and the penalties are similar to those for trees protected by a TPO.
Planning permissions can include conditions relating to tree protection, and a further application is normally needed for to vary or remove an existing planning condition.
If you want to check whether a tree is protected by a planning condition you can inspect applications on our website.
If you need to apply to vary or remove a condition from a Planning consent how to apply to undertake works to a protected tree/trees.
Any breach of planning conditions may result in Enforcement action. You can find out more information on how and when to report a potential breach of Planning conditions below.
You can find out if a tree/trees are protected by a TPO and/or are in a Conservation Area on our online mapping:
Further information, including help guides on using the online maps, is available on our website.
Applying for permission
You need permission to carry out work on trees protected by a TPO or in a Conservation Area.
You can apply for permission to carry out any of the above works to tree(s) online via the ePlanning Scotland website. Applications for proposed tree works must be supported by a report from a qualified Arborist containing a plan clearly identifying the location(s) of each tree and detailing the proposed work(s) and the reasons for the work. There is no fee for a Tree Works application.
If you need to apply to vary or remove a condition from a Planning consent, you can do this online via the ePlanning Scotland website.
Work on trees on council owned land
Contact your Housing Officer on 0300 123 0900 if you live in a council house and wish to undertake works to tree(s).
Contact Neighbourhood Services on 0300 123 0900 for enquiries relating to tree(s) on Council land (e.g. parks).
If you have any concerns that work(s) are being potentially being undertaken to protected tree(s) without required consent, you can find applications for tree works, and their outcome online.
If you are unable to locate any related consent for the works, you can report this online.
If you need to contact the Planning Service, you can submit an online enquiry.
Or via the following details:
By email to: Planning.Development@south-ayrshire.gov.uk
By telephone to: 01292 616 107
By post to: Planning Service, County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr, KA7 1DR