Protected trees

Tree preservation orders

There are more than 400 tree preservation orders protecting thousands of trees in the borough of Swindon.

A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is an order made by the council to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity.

Without the council’s written consent, an order prohibits the following:

  • cutting down
  • topping
  • lopping
  • uprooting
  • wilful damage
  • wilful destruction

Trees in conservation areas

All trees that are located in a Conservation Area are protected if they have a stem diameter greater than 75mm, when measured at a height of 1.5m above ground.

The same tree works listed above are prohibited without the submission of a prior notification.

How to find out if a tree is protected

To find if a tree is protected, you can take a look at our online map. Conservation Areas can also be overlaid by selecting ‘Conservation Areas EN10’ from the Local Plan category.

You must give notice and complete an application form if you plan to carry out any works to trees or woodland covered by a Tree Preservation Order.

Consent is not required when a tree is immediately dangerous or dead, however you should be prepared to give us five days notice or prove that the works fall within an exemption.

It is a criminal offence to undertake work to a protected tree without authorisation and anyone found guilty of these offences is liable, if convicted in the magistrates’ court, to a fine of up to £20,000.

In serious cases a person may be committed for trial in the Crown Court and, if convicted, is liable to an unlimited fine.

How to apply

If you plan to carry out any works to trees, hedges or woodlands covered by a Tree Preservation Order or located within a Conservation Area, you must give us notice by completing the online form on the Planning Portal.

How to obtain a copy of a TPO

A copy of a specific TPO can be purchased for a fee of £24.00 per copy by completing the online request form on the copies and charges page.

You can also contact us to inspect a TPO free of charge at the council offices, by prior arrangement. E-mail: and include the location or reference number.

Other statutory tree controls

Planning conditions

Trees and landscape issues can also be subject to conditions attached to planning permission. These can require that a certain tree or trees are retained and safeguarded. This is particularly useful during the construction process when trees and other vegetation are especially vulnerable.  

You can check if any planning conditions affect trees or hedges via the planning public access system.

Felling licence

Felling of trees not subject to a TPO or within a Conservation Area may still require a felling licence to be issued by the Forestry Commission. It is an offence to fell trees without a licence if an exemption does not apply.  

There are exceptions that apply to a maximum volume of timber (5m3), trees standing in a garden, churchyard, public open space or an orchard.  

For more information and advice, go to GOV.UK - tree felling overview.


It is against the law to remove most countryside hedgerows without permission. Hedgerows that are shorter than 20 metres, or that are in or border a garden, may not need consent to be removed.

For more information and advice, go to GOV.UK - countryside hedgerows regulation and management.  

Nesting birds

You must not do any work which might harm nesting birds or destroy their nests. You will usually find nesting birds during the main nesting and breeding season from 1 March to 31 August.  Breaches of the Wildlife and Countryside Act are enforced by the Police and further information can be found on the wildlife crime website.

Advice and support

For enquires relating to Tree Preservation Orders and Trees in Conservation Areas, e-mail:

Help us to improve this website

Use this form to provide feedback on this webpage. Don't use it to contact us about a service or make a complaint. We will not reply, even if you include personal details such as your name and address. If you want us to reply, you should contact us in a different way.

What is your feedback for this webpage?

Give feedback about this page