The protection of trees and hedges is the responsibility of the Countryside Section of the Local Planning Authority. We administer tree preservation orders, trees in conservation areas and applications to remove agricultural hedgerows. We are also responsible for the administration of the high hedges legislation, which is found at Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003).
Trees on Council owned land.
The Countryside Section is not, responsible for the inspection and maintenance of trees on Council owned land. If you are experiencing problems with a tree on a public open space, highway verge, public park etc. then please contact the Council’s Landscape Unit via the Council’s main switchboard on 01633 644644 or email: LandscapeUnit@monmouthshire.gov.uk Trees within school grounds are the responsibility of the Head Teacher and Governors of that establishment and if you have an issue with a tree or hedge the you should in the first instance contact the school.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPO).
This is an Order made by the local planning authority. It is an offence cut down, prune, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree covered by a TPO without the written permission of the Council. This applies to roots as well as the above ground parts of the tree. A TPO can protect any species of tree but does not apply to shrubs.
How do I find out if a tree is protected?
The Council’s Tree Officer can advise you which trees are protected. Simply phone 01633 644962 or email to Countryside@monmouthshire.gov.uk or write to The Tree Officer, Monmouthshire County Council PO Box 106 Caldicot NP26 9AN.
How to request a TPO
The main criteria for placing a TPO on a tree is its value in the landscape and if that landscape value would be diminished if the tree were to be removed. Usually the tree must be in good health and visible to the general public. Anyone can request a TPO to be made regardless of whose land the tree is situated upon.
If you believe a tree should be protected please contact the Tree Officer on 01633 644962 or via email or letter as above.
Making a tree preservation order
A new tree preservation order is made on a provisional basis for a period of six months only. Before the six month period expires (during which time the tree remains fully protected) we must decide either to confirm the order i.e. make it permanent; confirm the order with modifications e.g. remove certain trees or not confirm the order.
Who is informed when an order is made?
We will either write to the landowner via registered mail enclosing a copy of the order or serve it by hand. Others to whom we have a legal duty to serve the order are only those properties with boundaries which adjoin the land to which the order relates.
How can I object to or support an order?
Any comments must be made in writing to the Tree Officer either by email or letter within 28 days of the order being served. We will take all comments into account when deciding whether to confirm the order. All interested parties will be notified.
Carrying out works to protected trees
Formal application must be made to the local planning authority before pruning or felling a tree. From time to time trees may require maintenance to keep them in good order. An application form is available on request or you can download it here. Guidance note available here.
To support your application we recommend that you obtain professional advice. A list of Tree Works Contractors is available here
Can I do the work myself?
Yes, however the Council imposes a condition when granting consent that all tree works must be carried out in accordance with industry best practice. In the case of tree works this means that tree pruning must be done in accordance with British Standard 3998 (2010) Tree Work – Recommendations. A list of contractors who work to this standard is available on request. Alternatively it can be downloaded Arboricultural Consultants List
Does the Council consult the public when an application is made?
No. There is no legal requirement for us to do so. We do however inform your town or community council and your local member when applications are received.
What if I prune my tree without first obtaining consent?
You could be fined up to £20,000 in a Magistrate’s Court if you cut down, uproot, wilfully destroy a tree, or wilfully damage or prune a tree in a manner likely to destroy it. Fines can be considerably higher if you are prosecuted in the Crown Court.
The court will take into account any actual or likely financial benefit resulting from the offence e.g. if you consider the tree or trees may be to the detriment of an intended application for planning permission and remove them before the Council can properly consider the matter.
You could be fined up to £2,500 for other offences that do not lead to the destruction of a tree e.g. removing a branch. You will be required to replant any tree that has been destroyed.
Trees in Conservation Areas
Trees that are not covered by a TPO but are situated in one of Monmouthshire’s many conservation areas are still protected. An offence of carrying out unauthorised tree works in a conservation area carries the same penalties as that of a TPO. If you wish to prune or remove a tree in a conservation area an explanatory guidance note is found here
Countryside hedgerows are an integral feature of the Monmouthshire Landscape in terms of their visual appeal, historic or cultural value and their importance for biodiversity.
Most farmland hedges in Monmouthshire are protected under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997. The Regulations contain a set of criteria for determining whether or not a hedgerow is Important. For more details please contact the Tree Officer
What if I want to remove part or all of a hedgerow?
A formal planning application is required to remove a hedgerow. You may download the application here Hedgerow removal application form.pdf. Alternatively application forms and guidance notes are available from the Planning Administration team on 01633 644644.
Help with completing the application form may be downloaded here:
What if I remove a hedgerow without applying for planning permission?
The Regulations state that if you remove a hedge without first applying to do so then the hedge is automatically deemed to be Important whether it was or not. You may be heavily fined in a magistrate’s court, have a Hedgerow Replacement Notice served upon you requiring that the hedge be replanted or both.
The legislation referring to high hedges is found in Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. Further information can be found in the leaflet High hedges: Complaining to the Council. A link to the leaflet is found here
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. In doing so, the authority must take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of both parties as well as the interests of the wider community. If we consider the circumstances justify it, we 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 authority is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
Coming to the Council to resolve your hedge problem should be treated as very much a last resort. You must be able to demonstrate to us that you have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving your hedge dispute. If you fail to demonstrate this we have the right not accept your case. Some useful information on how to approach your neighbour and discuss your concerns can be found in the advisory leaflet Over the Garden Hedge which you may download here
If we do accept your case you will be required to pay a non-returnable fee of £320 for this service.
How do I make a complaint?
If you have exhausted all other avenues and still have a problem with a neighbour’s high hedge then contact the Tree Officer who will send you an application form.
Cutting tall stories down to size!
- The legislation does not require all hedges to be cut down to a height of two metres.
- You do not have to obtain permission to grow your hedge above two metres.
- When a hedge grows over two metres, we do not automatically take action unless a justifiable complaint is made.
- If we do accept your complaint as valid it does not follow automatically that we will order your neighbour to reduce the height of the hedge. We have to weigh up all the issues and consider each case within the guidelines available to us.