Tree Preservation Orders & Trees in Conservation Areas

Tree Preservation Order – Glen Avenue, Gourock

The Council has confirmed a new Tree Preservation Order in respect of trees at Glen Avenue, Gourock for the following reasons:

1. To preserve individual trees and groups of trees in the interests of amenity as they contribute considerably to the character of the area;

2. To preserve many trees of good quality;

3. To safeguard individual trees and groups of trees against unnecessary or indiscriminate felling; and

4. To retain and preserve the natural habitat of wildlife.

Documents relating to this new TPO can be accessed from this page.


What is a Tree Preservation Order?

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are a statutory means of control used to protect identified trees and woodlands where it is considered that their removal would have a particularly unacceptable or significant impact upon the character and attractiveness of a locality and its enjoyment by the public, or they have cultural or historic significance.

A TPO may be made for individual trees, groups of trees, or woodlands and prohibits the unauthorised cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees. All types of trees, including hedgerow trees, can be covered. However, hedges, bushes and shrubs cannot. In order for a TPO to be made trees must normally be in good condition, have a significant life expectancy and should not be dead, dying or dangerous.

A TPO gives the Council an opportunity to assess the impact of any proposed work to trees or other operations which may affect them. It is not intended to prevent the sound management of trees and woodlands, but to allow the Council to control works which affect them.


For what reasons would trees be identified as requiring a Tree Preservation Order?

The reasons include:-

  • to preserve trees or woodlands in the interest of amenity as they contribute considerably to the character of the area
  • to safeguard the trees or woodlands against unnecessary or indiscriminate felling
  • to retain shelter belts and preserve the natural habitat of wildlife
  • to form an attractive screen to nearby development

Trees or woodlands to be protected by a TPO should normally be visible from a public place, such as a road or a footpath, although exceptionally the inclusion of other areas may be justified. Frequently the inclusion of trees within a TPO may be more for their collective value rather than for their merit as individual specimens. Other factors such as their importance as a wildlife habitat may also be taken into consideration.


What is the process for making a TPO?

Once proposed, the Council will write to the owner and other interested parties serving notice of the making of the TPO, and advertising the TPO in the local newspaper. Anyone may make an objection or comment in writing to the Council within 28 days of the date of the advertisement. Anonymous objections or comments will not be considered.

The TPO comes in to effect immediately, but will lapse after 6 months unless it is confirmed by the Planning Authority. Any objections or comments are summarised in the report to the Environment & Regeneration Committee and are taken into account when the Committee considers confirmation of the Order. The Committee may confirm the TPO either without modification or “subject to such modifications as they consider expedient”. Alternatively, they may decide not to confirm the TPO.


Is the Council responsible for looking after the trees covered by a TPO?

No. There is no transfer of ownership or responsibility for trees when they are covered by a TPO. As with any other trees, liability for their safety, their condition, and any damage they may cause continues to lie with the landowner. There is a clear duty on the owner to comply with a TPO, and they should be aware that failure to do so may result in financial penalties and a requirement to reinstate trees.

The management of trees covered by TPOs is encouraged. If extensive investigative and survey work is required, a specialist Arboricultural Consultant should be commissioned.


How can I check if a tree has a preservation order placed on it?

You can check online whether a tree has a TPO placed on it by referring to the TPO schedule on the Council website.


How can I find out if work being carried out on a protected tree has permission?

Applications for tree works can be viewed by visiting

There is no legal requirement for the Council to consult on tree applications.

If you see works to trees being carried out that you can find no record of, contact 01475 717171. If, without putting yourself at risk, you are able to obtain information such as photographs, details of the contractor, vehicle registration numbers etc. this will help the Council in any potential enforcement action.


What if I think there are trees that should be protected?

Any member of the public can propose that a tree be afforded the protection of a TPO. This should be undertaken in writing and can be emailed to or sent to Planning Policy Team, Inverclyde Council, Municipal Buildings, Greenock, PA15 1LY, identifying the tree or trees concerned and stating the reasons why it is important to protect them, based on the reasons for creating a TPO provided above


What if I want to work on a protected tree?

Any person wishing to undertake work affecting trees covered by a TPO, or within a conservation area, is required to seek the consent of the Council. 


Anyone wishing to carry out work on a tree covered by a TPO  must apply online at the Scottish Government’s e-Planning website, specifying the tree or trees requiring work, and explaining what they want to do and why. A site inspection will be carried out, and an assessment made of the impact of the proposed work on local amenity and the condition of the tree. Consent may be conditional including for example, a requirement for replacement tree planting. It is an offence for any person to undertake works on a tree(s) covered by a TPO without the consent of the Council. This may lead, on conviction, to a fine being imposed.

Conservation area

Before carrying out any tree work within a Conservation Area, a person must give 6 weeks written notice to the Council identifying the tree(s) and detailing the nature and extent of the proposed work. This can be done online through the Scottish Government’s e-Planning website. This allows an officer to inspect the trees, discuss the work with the applicant and make recommendations. A TPO will be promoted if the trees are of significant public amenity value and are considered to be at risk. After six weeks, if the Authority has not responded and if a TPO has not been served, the tree work specified may proceed.

If the intended work does not proceed within two years, from receiving consent, it will be deemed to have lapsed, and a further notification will be required.


Is there a fee for a tree works application?

There is no charge for a tree works application.


What if I need to work on a protected tree because it is dangerous?

Where works are required in the interests of safety, it is necessary to provide the Council with at least 5 days’ notice. Failure to do so may lead to prosecution for unauthorised works.

If tree works are required immediately for safety, they may be carried out but it is necessary to demonstrate that the works were absolutely necessary. Only a minimum amount of work required to remove a danger can be carried out e.g. a tree cannot be felled if it would have been sufficient to remove a branch. Evidence should be collected such as a tree surgeon’s report, photographs and/or an independent witness statement and an application for a tree works consent as soon as possible on the Scottish Government’s e-Planning  website.


Who can apply to carry out works to a protected tree?

Anyone can apply for permission to carry out works to a protected tree. However, consent from the Council does not allow you to carry out work you are not legally entitled to do. This will need the permission of the owner. It is always recommended that you speak to the owner first before making an application.


What if my application to carry out work on a protected tree is refused or I object to the conditions imposed by the planning authority?

You can appeal to the Scottish Ministers through the Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) in writing within 28 days of receiving the decision. The appeal will normally be decided on the basis of written representations. The DPEA may allow or dismiss the appeal, or vary the original decision.


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

It is an offence under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act to carry out work to, or damage a protected tree without the Council’s consent or having provided the required notice.

Offences are reported to the Procurator Fiscal and you could be fined up to £20,000 on a summary conviction, or on indictment be liable to an unlimited fine. In addition the Council will require that a replacement tree is planted in the same or a suitable location.


Can I stop planning permission being granted by getting a Tree Preservation Order imposed on a tree on the site?

The existence of a TPO cannot in itself prevent the development of land taking place, but the Council, as planning authority, has a duty to have regard to the preservation and planting of trees and the likely effect of development proposals on trees is a material consideration.

It is common practice for the Council to place a TPO on land with trees that is, or may become, the subject of development proposals. This is not to prevent development, but to ensure that the removal or cutting of trees does not take place until the Council has had an opportunity to assess any proposals.

If the Council has granted a detailed planning permission on a site where there is an existing or a new TPO, no further express consent is required for the cutting down, lopping and felling of trees if directly required for the implementation of the detailed planning consent.


.For further information please contact Regeneration & Planning by calling 01475 717171