Tree Preservation Order

Tree Preservation Order

Postby elvenspirit » Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:37 pm

There is an area TPO on our land that covers trees of a certain age. We have a planning application on the go for a new build. Our local TPO Officer is making demands to protect trees & their roots that are not covered by the TPO. It seems to me that they are a law unto themselves - make too many noises and they will recommend planning refusal and / or slap in a new TPO. Is there anything we can do?
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby Brainsey » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:33 pm

Fell the trees not covered by the TPO now.
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby TO » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:52 pm

Hi

Trees, protected or otherwise, are a material consideration in determining a planning application. The Local Plannig Authority is under a [b]DUTY[b] to ensure the protection of the trees either by way of a planning condition or TPO.

From what you say it seems the tree officer isn't overly concerned about the trees that aren't protected, otherwise they'd be TPO'd by now and your proposal scuppered. However, the duty still applies and the tree officer is doing what every tree officer does, making sure the Local Planning Authority complies with its duty. You can, if you wish to spend the money and fell the trees which aren't, from what you say, a problem regards the planning application. However, that seems a bit like cutting your nose off to spite your face, but that's fine if you've money to burn. Or you can put up your tree protection as per the consent, almost certainly a lot cheaper.

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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby elvenspirit » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:03 pm

Thanks for your comments. I do not feel that felling the trees is an option now as I am sure it will alienate us. With hindsight perhaps it should have been done before applying but we were advised by our tree surveyor not to (and we genuinely like trees and did not want to fell them en-bloc). The trees have not been a problem until now, we have worked around them. At the 11th hour (and after various site visits) we find that we have a potentially serious problem because of a non-protected young sycamore (hardly a specimen tree) which could have been identified by the TPO Officer at the outset. We are attempting to negotiate a solution and remain hopeful (fingers crossed). But it strikes me that a TPO Officer can operate without fear of any recourse. I understand that they have a duty to consider material planning issues but there seems to be no way to challenge the view of one person. I would be very interested to hear a legal opinion on the issue.
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby TO » Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:13 pm

Hi

Why should tree officers or any other officer be expected to be in fear of recourse for carrying out their job. Most of us are used to threats of one kind of another from physical violence to the loss of our jobs, but just because threats are common it doesn't make it right.

The tree officers professional view is his/her profwssional view and I would imagine the Courts would say they are perfectly entitled to it.

My comments on duty are to do with the duty to protect trees see the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 s197, not on material considerations.

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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby elvenspirit » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:05 pm

TO - everybody should be accountable for their actions. In the PRIVATE sector there are risks associated with incompetent practice that can result in prosecution and prison. I am not talking about physical threats which are illegal and ALWAYS wrong. All I am saying is that there seems to be no way to challenge (lawfully) the decision of a TPO Officer. It may be the TPO Officer's professional view but there is no black & white here - it is his / her professional opinion - but is it correct? How can I challenge it? As a TPO Officer yourself please tell me if I am wrong.
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby TO » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:27 pm

Hi

If somebody in the private sector is prosecuted and imprisoned for their actions it is because they have committed a criminal offence. The same would happen to a Council Officer if they committed a criminal offence. However, they haven't committed any crime, they just have a different opinion to you.

If they have commented on your planing application in writing they should give their reasons for their comments. Similarly, if they have commented verbally to you they should explain there reasons. If you want to challenge it the best way would be to get your own professional to do so. This is quite common on many planning applications. Other than that it's difficult to see how you could challenge their opinion. You could try a formal complaint, but if all the officer has done is their job that won't get very far, I can't imagine it would get far with the Ombudsman either.

You may have a different view to the tree officer, and that's fine, but that's something the tree officer and other Council officers deal with day in day out especially in the planning sphere where their are applicants who are of course in the right, objectors who are of course in the right, and policies both local and national which the applicants and objectors will cherry pick from and selectively quote to suit their own purposes.

It's the way of the planning world.

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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby elvenspirit » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:55 pm

Accountability covers criminal and civil issues. A company director who is grossly incompetent is potentially liable to prosecution. A company that offers a service and it turns out to be of poor quality is potentially liable for damages.

You say "You could try a formal complaint, but if all the officer has done is their job that won't get very far, I can't imagine it would get far with the Ombudsman either. " Exactly my point - one person's view stands irrespective of whether it is right or wrong. Who judges whether he / she has done their job proficiently? How do the general public challenge that view with a truly independent body who will listen to both sides of the argument?

You say "You may have a different view to the tree officer, and that's fine, but that's something the tree officer and other Council officers deal with day in day" But how do they do that independently, transparently & fairly?

This I am afraid just illustrates my point that the public sector fail to understand. There is no accountability!
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby arsie » Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:59 pm

In our neck of the woods sycamores are considered to be weeds. They self propagate profusely as any TPO will know.
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby elvenspirit » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:01 pm

arsie - here, here.
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby despair » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:12 pm

The very last thing anyone needs near a house is a Sycamore

they are suited to a forest not a domestic garden
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby arsie » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:21 pm

Here in a conservation area any tree over 75mm in trunk diameter you need to apply to have felled even if no specific TPO exists. If that is the same for you, I would go ahead and apply, for reasons I stated. We agreed with no objection when our neighbour wanted to fell a 20m high young adult sycamore on our boundary (south) in a garden already with too many trees. It went ahead and thank goodness. That was three years ago and we are still eliminating self seeded sycamore from the boundary hedge.
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby elvenspirit » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:43 pm

We are not in a conservation area. We also have far too many large trees on a relatively small piece of land. It is the numerous sycamore saplings that have been allowed to grow that are causing us problems. My advice to anyone is 1) do not plant any trees in the UK and 2) cut down any saplings immediately
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby arsie » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:29 pm

If it were me I would just get in there and get rid of the sycamore saplings. As I said, it would just be weeding. The sycamore is considered invasive by some - see http://www.ecotreecare.co.uk/woodland_management_sycamore.htm. Now I have read this I can see that the tree that was felled on our boundary is already producing suckers from the stump, not self seeded saplings as I had thought :(

The trouble is, too many people 'like' trees and do not anticipate or put in the expense to keep them in check. Once a tree gets above shoulder height only professionals can keep them maintained and naturally this costs. Usually those who suffer are helpless to act faced with gormless tree huggers - who use the line 'but I like the tree' to overlook the inconvenient consequence of their (usually) in-action and don't accept that with the 'niceness' of their trees goes some responsibility for the often bad effects of this 'niceness' on others.
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Re: Tree Preservation Order

Postby TO » Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:26 am

Hi

Hi The tree officers professional opinion is their profesionnal opinion and they're entitled to it. You are entitled to disagree and seek your own professional opinion to suit your needs.

elvenspirit wrote:we genuinely like trees
and
elvenspirit wrote:We also have far too many large trees on a relatively small piece of land. It is the numerous sycamore saplings that have been allowed to grow that are causing us problems. My advice to anyone is 1) do not plant any trees in the UK and 2) cut down any saplings immediately
Now I get it you like trees but...... :lol:

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