Barking up the wrong tree? Part One of the problems with trees that you need to know

When viewing a property for the first time, most of us are understandably excited and perhaps blindsided by focussing on the interior. You have moved in, unpacked and just sat down on your sofa and spot a large unsightly tree outside your window in your back garden. What do you do?

Your immediate reaction may be to locate the nearest chainsaw however, there is one thing you should consider: is this tree affected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or other limitations?

What is a TPO? A TPO is a written order which makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, damage or destroy a tree without the permission of the Local Authority.

The legislation that governs TPO’s are in that well read blockbuster Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and the snappily titled Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation Order and Trees in Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2010.These pieces of legislation mean that you must obtain prior written consent from the Local Authority before carrying out any tree works.

How do I find out if my property is affected by a TPO? When buying a property, your solicitor may receive this information and pass it on to you. TPO’s can also be found in some Title Deeds and will set out the affected land in the area. Additionally, some areas are impacted by conservation status and basic planning regulations may prevent you altering the look of a tree.

You may think, ‘why should I bother with all of this?’ Well, as an example, the penalties for breaching a TPO are extremely costly ranging from a fine up to £20,000 or even an unlimited fine. Compare this to the cost of an application to the Local Authority, and contacting your local Tree Officer, it certainly pays to follow the rules. Therefore this week's MMi Golden Rule is, before you fire up your turbocharged chainsaw to massacre that unsightly tree, always first speak to your local authority to see if there are limitations or restrictions you must observe.