A TPO (Tree Preservation Order) is a statutory protection afforded to trees under the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. This protection was previously afforded under the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 and the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.
Why protect trees?
Trees can have a high amenity value and can make an important contribution to the environment, creating a varied, interesting and attractive landscape. They can help define the character of an area and create a sense of place. Trees also provide wildlife habitat and contribute to the health and well being of humans. TPOs are imposed in order to protect selected trees or woodland if their removal is likely to have a significant impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public.
What types of trees are covered?
The order can cover anything from a single tree to a woodland and all types of trees can be protected. Unless a woodland TPO is proposed, only trees over 3.5m in height are considered for a TPO. Hedges, bushes and shrubs will not be protected.
How are TPOs initiated?
All requests for a TPO should be sent to our tree officer for consideration. Additionally we may initiate TPOs as a result of a planning application or in response to any threat.
Are trees in a conservation area protected?
Trees in a conservation area are subject to protection as though a TPO is in place. In a conservation area anyone proposing to carry out works to trees must apply to us. We will consider the proposal and respond within six weeks. Work cannot proceed until we have responded or the six week period has expired.
If we consider that the proposed works should not be carried out, it will impose a formal TPO to cover the specific trees. In exceptional circumstances, where there is imminent danger, the applicant may proceed, at risk, with works immediately but must submit evidence to us in the form of a report and photographs.
Where are the TPOs and conservation areas in Belfast?
Information on the location and details of the TPOs and conservation areas within the Belfast City Council area can be accessed using our online TPO and Conservation Area Viewer (opens in new window).
Can I carry out works to protected trees?
If you would like to carry out works to protected trees you must first seek our consent by completing our online application form.
Guide to TPOs
For more information about TPOs, including frequently asked questions, you can read our guidance document.
Read TPO guidance document