Applying to do work to protected trees

Edinburgh has a significant number of protected trees with approximately 180 Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) in place (these include individual trees and groups of trees), and 50 conservation areas. Permission is required to do work to a tree protected by a TPO or a tree within a conservation area.

As a result, we receive large numbers of tree applications, with over 1000 applications submitted last year. To help us deal better with the volume and complexity of these cases we have made a number of improvements, including increasing resources, changing how we validate (check in) tree applications and updating our online information.

RESOURCES

In terms of the team, we have secured some additional resources on a temporary basis which will help us manage the large number of tree applications we are receiving.  We hope this will see continued improvement on the time we take to handle applications and reduce the backlog.

WHAT IS CHANGING?

All tree applications will now be validated by dedicated tree technicians who will review the content of submissions before allocating it to a tree officer.

This means that the tree officers will have all the information they require to assess the application. It will reduce the amount of time that is spent requesting further information so they can concentrate on assessing the applications and hopefully speed up the process.

Will be asking those who make applications for works to trees to:

  • Make sure they apply for the right consent and tick the right box on the ePlanning form i.e. conservation area or TPO.
  • Give the right address for where the tree is actually located (and not just the address of the client)
  • Provide photos of the tree/s and its context
  • Give a detailed description of the works based on BS3998:2010

Applications will no longer be validated unless they have all the information necessary for us to assess it.  We will require the information to be submitted within 14 days, otherwise the application will be returned to the applicant or agent undetermined.  Doing work to a protected tree without permission would be a criminal offence.

ONLINE GUIDANCE ON HOW TO APPLY FOR WORKS TO TREES

At the start of the year we renewed our Planning Trees webpages and updated our guidance on doing works to trees: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/privatelyownedtrees

We have also produced a ‘quick guide’ on applying for work to trees which sets out how to check for protected trees and has a summary of what is required as part of the ePlanning submission.  

CUSTOMER FORUM

We will continue to review the new process and in due course we will be holding a customer forum for agents who make tree applications to get their feedback.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience as we put these changes in place.

Trees, hedges and overhanging foliage

Do your trees need pruning?  Is a high hedge causing you problems?  Or is overhanging foliage (bushes) obstructing the footpath?  Here is some useful advice on what to do.

Trees

Some lovely trees and hedges
Some lovely trees and hedges

First, check on our map to see if the tree is in a Conservation Area or has a Tree Preservation Order.  This is important as it could limit what you can do.  Our Tree Protection Charter sets this out in more detail.

If the trees are protected then you’ll need to notify us before you do any works.  You can apply for this online and these guidance notes explain all the details.  For issues with trees on Council land we have more information on our website.

High Hedges

High hedges can be a nuisance if they’re blocking out lots of light so it’s in everyone’s interest that these are kept in shape.  If you’ve tried discussing this with your neighbour who owns the hedge and they don’t want to cut it back you can apply for a High Hedge Notice.  We have more information on our website on how to do this, but hopefully you can resolve this amicably.  Otherwise we may serve a notice to reduce the height of the hedge.  Ultimately, if the notice isn’t complied with we may take action to cut it back and recover the costs from the owner.  We’d rather it didn’t come to that.

Overhanging foliage

Overhanging bushes.
Overhanging bushes

Although this isn’t a planning responsibility we do like to see that footpaths are kept clear and that you can get around without any obstructions.

So if trees or bushes are overhanging a public footpath and getting in your way there is an online form you can fill in and one of the Council’s area teams will deal with this.

Hopefully this has given you a few tips on how to sort out a variety of arboriculture issues. If you still need some help please get in touch with us at planningtrees@edinburgh.gov.uk