The protection of trees and hedges is the responsibility of the Heritage 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 Heritage 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: GroundsandCleansing@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 then 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 644962/01633 644880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Tree Preservation Order to be made, regardless of whose land the tree is situated upon.
Making a tree preservation order
A new tree preservation order is made on a provisional basis, for a period of six months. 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 Local Planning Authority 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. An application form is available on request, or you can download it here. Guidance notes are also available here.
To support your application we recommend that you obtain professional advice. A list of Tree Work Contractors are 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.
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.
All planning applications are open for inspection in the planning register.
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. For example, 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. For more information on carrying out works in a conservation area please contact email@example.com or 01633 644880.
Agricultural 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 a hedgerow is important. For more details, please contact the Tree Officer.
What if I want to remove part or all of a hedgerow?
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 and/or have a Hedgerow Replacement Notice served upon you, requiring that the hedge be replanted.
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 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, and 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.
Please note that this service is a discretionary, therefore, 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, or complete the application form.