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Conservation Areas and Trees

Conservation Areas are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. As such, there are restrictions to the work that can be carried out within them. This includes work to trees.

Trees in Conservation Areas which are already protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) are subject to the normal TPO controls but the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 also makes special provision for trees in Conservation Areas which are not the subject of a TPO.

Anyone proposing to cut down or carry out work on a tree in a Conservation Area within Exmoor National Park is required to give Exmoor National Park Authority six weeks prior notice. The purpose of this requirement is to give the LPA an opportunity to consider whether a TPO should be made in respect of the tree.


Notification

Before any work is carried out to a tree in a Conservation Area, Exmoor National Park Authority must first be formally notified of the intended work.

To see where the Conservation Areas are in Exmoor National Park please use this map

The notification procedure

The notification process is achieved by completing a form entitled "Application for tree works: work to trees subject to a tree preservation order (TPO) and/or notification of proposed works to trees in a conservation area". It is important that the form is filled out correctly and with sufficient detail otherwise it may not be registered. Potential notifiers are therefore encouraged to contact ENPA before a notification is made so that that a site visit or at least a discussion about the proposed works can be had in order to resolve any potential points of contention in the first instance, making the notification procedure run smoothly.

When a completed notification form is received, it will be formally registered and a letter of acknowledgement sent to the applicant. A six week period of consultation then follows where neighbours and Parish Councils are given the opportunity to offer their comments. Any representations received are taken into account when the notification is determined.

A site visit will then normally be made if one hasn't already taken place.

If the proposed work is not considered suitable and if the tree merits it, a TPO can be placed on the tree to prevent the work from going ahead.


Work to protected trees without consent

There are strong penalties for work to protected trees that has not had written consent from ENPA. If a tree which is situated in a Conservation Area is felled without formally notifying ENPA you could be liable for a fine of up to £20,000 on conviction in a Magistrates Court. In serious cases a person may be committed for trial in the Crown Court and, if convicted, is liable to an unlimited fine.

Dead and dangerous trees exception

Exmoor National Park Authority's consent is not required for cutting down or carrying out work on trees which are dead or have become dangerous.

Determining if a tree is dead or dangerous is not always a straightforward matter and as such the services of a professionally qualified arboriculturist should be sought.

If a tree is deemed to be dead or dangerous then the onus is on the owner of the tree to prove that any tree or part of tree removed is in such a condition should there be any recourse following the work. This could take the form of an arboricultural report. Also, any work carried out under this exception should be limited to that which is necessary in the interests of safety so, if there is a dead branch on an otherwise healthy tree, only the branch should be removed.

Anyone wishing to carry out tree work under this exception should contact ENPA at least five days before the commencement of work except in an emergency.

A tree is not necessarily considered dangerous due to its height and size or because it moves in the wind. Nor is a tree dangerous if it drops fruit and leaves. This is all part of living with trees.