Are you wondering why the Tree Preservation Orders are needed? May be you are not, because you might think that it is yet another exercise to conserve the environment and yet another opportunity to pay “humane” tribute to Mother Earth. Well, every thought has some truth in it, but it cannot be the absolute truth. Similarly, your not wondering because of the reason mentioned above is partially true, but not entirely. The reason is Tree Preservation Orders are not exactly meant to save the Earth, but rather they are legal procedures taken by the local authority of the United Kingdom if site clearance of any development work involves cutting, uprooting, or chopping of the trees.
Therefore, when there is any residential or commercial development that is to be carried out, it is the duty of the local council to thoroughly check the development plan and pay close attention if there are any trees that are coming in the way of the development. According to the section 197 of The Town & Country Planning Act 1990: “it shall be the duty of the local planning authority to ensure, whenever it is appropriate, that in granting planning permission for any development adequate provision is made, by the imposition of conditions, for the preservation or planting of trees.”
Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), Devon Structure Plan, North Devon District Councils Local Plan reflects and redefines this policy. The most recent code of conduct regarding planning applications’ validation also states that details of the trees near the proposed development must be submitted as per BS5837:2005 Trees in relation to construction – Recommendations. In this context, it would be necessary to understand that this guidance is just a means to assist those associated with trees, and therefore should not be deemed as an argument against or for the tree preservation. It is just a tool to make both owners and decision makers decide how trees to be retained and how they can be incorporated with the proposed development. Hence, it is the responsibility of the owner to present the appropriate information of the proposed development and the legitimate site clearance to the local authority failing which is surely an open statement of not complying with the rules and regulations of the country. Having said this, there are certain exemptions to this rule as well.
If the development needs to be carried out urgently, or for any type of security reason, and if the tree is protected by Tree Preservation Order, the owner can take the advantage of certain exemptions available in the law. But, this area is bit tricky and requires special knowledge that ecological consultants have. When the full development permission by the local authority has been granted, there is no need to apply separately to ask for the permission to remove the trees. According to ecological consultants, the separate application for the permission is needed only when there is an emergency to cut the tree. And, in order to cope up with such issues with regards to site clearance and Tree Preservation Orders, help of ecological consultants can prove to be a smooth sail in the proposed development!