Tree preservation orders and high hedges

Tree preservation orders (TPOs) are used to protect selected trees. TPOs are usually made if the removal of a tree or group of trees would have a significant impact on the environment or public enjoyment. You need to apply for permission to carry out any works to a protected tree.

Tree preservation orders (TPOs) are used to protect selected trees. TPOs are usually made if the removal of a tree or group of trees would have a significant impact on the environment or public enjoyment.

If you wish to carry out any works to a protected tree you need to apply to us for permission. This includes:

  • pruning
  • lopping
  • felling
  • gutting of roots

Apply for permission to work on a protected tree

Any applications to carry out work to protected trees which are alleged to be involved in damage to buildings and/or other structures (such as drains, paths or walls) must be supported by technical evidence.

The maximum penalty for carrying out unauthorised works to trees with a TPO is £20,000. In serious cases, a person may be tried at the Crown Court and, if convicted, is liable to an unlimited fine.

For general enquiries about trees or trees on council property please contact Tree Services (arboricultural services).

If you would like the council to consider placing a tree preservation order (TPO) on a tree or trees, please contact us with:

  • details of the tree(s)
  • the location
  • why you consider a TPO is needed
  • your contact details

High hedges

If you are in dispute with a neighbour over a high hedge, you can contact us as a last resort. It is important that first you discuss the problem with your neighbour. If this is difficult, you should discuss it with an independent mediator or third party. If you can't agree on a solution, you can submit a formal complaint to us. We'll decide if the hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your home.

We can order the owner to reduce the height of their hedge. There is a right of appeal against any decision made. Failure to comply with an order to reduce a hedge can result in a fine.

To make a formal complaint, you must be able to prove that all other attempts to resolve the dispute have failed. If you can't, then we can refuse to accept the complaint.

The government has published a range of guidance on high hedges and how to avoid or resolve disputes without involving the council. The documents can be downloaded below.

Over the Garden Hedge (PDF, 1.04 MB)

Hedge height and light loss (PDF, 499.70 KB)

Making a complaint about high hedges

Download the complaint form below and send it to us.

High hedges complaint form (PDF, 198.28 KB)

High hedges guidance notes (PDF, 58.99 KB)

The following guidance, published by the government, might be useful.

High hedges complaining to the council (PDF, 1.98 MB)

High hedges appealing against a decision (PDF, 951.44 KB)

It costs £350 to submit a high hedges complaint. You will not get this money back, whatever the outcome.

Trees in conservation areas

Trees in conservation areas receive a similar level of protection to trees protected by Tree Preservation Orders. If you wish to fell, lop or top or uproot trees within a conservation area, you must give us six weeks’ notice in writing. It is an offence to carry out the work within that period without our agreement.

Protected trees

If you want to know if a tree in Barking and Dagenham is protected by a Tree Preservation Order, if it’s in a conservation area or if you are concerned that a tree is under threat, please contact us.

Please provide as much information as possible with your inquiry:

  • your name, email address and phone number
  • the address for the tree (house number, street name and postcode)
  • the location of the tree (eg front garden or on public highway)
  • if the property is privately owned or if it is owned by the council
  • the work you propose carrying out to the tree
  • if a current planning permission applies to the site where the tree is located

Dangerous trees subject to TPO

Except in an emergency, you should give the council at least five days’ notice before:

  • cutting down a protected tree which is dying, dead or dangerous
  • removing dead, dying or dangerous timber from an otherwise healthy tree

In an emergency, if it is not possible to give the council five days notice, you are advised to provide photographic evidence and a report from a tree surgeon verifying that the tree was dangerous.

This is in your interest, because you could be prosecuted if we think you have carried out unauthorised work.

Please note that the landowner has a duty to plant a replacement tree in the same place.

If you have any concerns about the safety of a protected tree or a highway tree, please contact us:

020 8215 3000