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Trees and the Law - Page Four

PLEASE NOTE:The advice given here is for guidance only. It must not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice. Your legal situation will depend on the individual facts of your case and you should always consult your legal advisor if you are in any doubt.

Dangerous trees
In the case of both TPOs and Conservation Areas there are exemptions to the need to make a prior application if the tree is imminently dangerous. In these cases, work to make the tree safe may be carried out immediately. You should contact your local Council by telephone before you do the work.

Any work must be limited to that required to remove the immediate danger. The burden of proof is on the tree owner and the person doing the work to prove that it was necessary for urgent safety reasons. This can be very difficult after the event and professional arboricultural advice should be taken before carrying out any urgent works. It would also help if photographs were taken of the tree and the defects which create the need for the emergency work.

If an applicant disagrees with the decision of the Council in respect of an application to carry out work to protected trees, they have a right of appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment. Work which is not exempt and is carried out without formal notification or within the six week period without the written consent of the Council is illegal. The Council may prosecute offenders and fines of up to £20,000 for each tree may be imposed by the Magistrates Court in the event of offenders being convicted of an offence. If proceedings are instituted in the Crown Court fines are unlimited. There is a duty to replace any tree removed without permission.

N.B. The existence of a Tree Preservation Order does not alter the owner´s responsibility to ensure his/her trees are safe and managed in accordance with good arboricultural practice.

Felling Licences
Felling Licences, administered by the Forestry Authority, also control tree felling. If an owner wishes to cut down more than 5 cubic metres of timber (about 5 mature woodland trees depending on size) they must obtain written permission from the Forestry Authority.

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