On 6th April 2012 section 193 of the Planning act 2008 kicks in, changing Tree Preservation Order (TPO) legislation. But what does this mean in practice?
If you own trees or woodlands protected and there was some doubt about the validity of the order, then this should no longer be the case. This is because the new legislation gets rid of wording from various laws and amendments made since the world war II, creating a level playing field for all TPOs ever made. Due to the complexity of a TPO this would seem to be a sensible move. The TPO becomes more plan based, and the wording mainly in the primary and secondary legislation, rather than in the TPO document itself. This makes the TPO documents made from now on more slimline. But this also raises questions about the old documents which will contain wording that is no longer valid, but technically should be valid in the eyes of the law. Some experts are concerned that there will be issues enforcing TPOs as a result of this.
Furthermore, some of the more cumbersome elements of TPO administration required of local authorities are reduced. E.g. in the past, Councils needed to serve a TPO not only on the landowner, but also every adjacent landowner, regardless of how relevant or expensive that exercise may be.
As a former TPO tree officer for a Local Planning Authority, I think the current TPO system is pretty effective, but this should bring clarity, save money also time. That’s got to be good right? Well the proof will be in the pudding as they say. Hopefully the new tree protection legislation is as good tight as the old, and will not lead to the loss of valuable trees. I guess we will not know if that is the case until there is a test case in law.