Essex County Council has a responsibility for many aspects of local environmental services relating to trees, woodlands and hedges.
Tree preservation orders
Tree preservation orders (TPOs) seek to ensure that particular trees are protected from loss or damage. Felling, uprooting, lopping, wilfully damaging or destroying and even pruning a tree that is subject to a TPO, without the consent of the local authority, is a criminal offence which carries a fine that can be as high as £20,000, depending on individual circumstances and the nature of the offence. Therefore, before felling or pruning a tree, you should check that it is not subject to a TPO.
Historically, Essex County Council has shared responsibility for tree preservation orders with local and district authorities. However, since March 2010, in order to simplify access to information, Essex County Council has handed full responsibility to district and borough councils
. Therefore, all requests for information about tree preservation orders should be made to your local district or borough council.
Trees in Conservation Areas
Special provision is also provided for protecting trees within conservation areas. Anyone proposing to cut down or carry out work to a tree in a conservation area is required to give their district or borough council six weeks’ prior notice.
Provided all other avenues for resolving your issues have been exhausted, Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 gives your district or borough council the power to investigate complaints about evergreen hedges.
The role of the local authority is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner but to adjudicate on whether – in the words of the act – the hedge is ‘adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property’.
If they consider that the circumstances justify it, the local authority will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem, and by when. Failure to carry out the works required by the local authority is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
Trees on Verges
Where trees are located on public land and verges, the local planning authority must be contacted prior to any work on the tree being carried out. In Essex, some district councils take responsibility directly, and in others responsibility lies with Essex County Council. A page identifying who holds responsibility for trees on verges in particular areas is available from Essex County Council
Planting Trees and Hedges
Essex County Council works with local communities to provide assistance, support and funding for the planting of trees and hedges. Anyone interested in planting trees and hedges in their local area should contact Essex County Council directly.
Trees or Vegetation and Highway Encroachment
Trees or vegetation which are encroaching upon or impeding safe use of a footpath or road should be reported through the Highways fault reporting page