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18 Aug, 2023/ by Surveyor Local /News

As Louis Armstrong rightly sang about in his 1968 number one hit, What a Wonderful World, trees are not only beautiful but necessary. Not only for the sustenance of other life in their ecosystems, but in helping the mental health and general well-being of human beings.

It is a well-known fact that trees are major assistants in helping to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, replacing it with oxygen. There are other contributors to this process, including some seaweeds, most green plants and several species of algae. However, trees, with their tall canopies can also protect the earth below from becoming too scorched or saturated.

Tropical rainforests are also often described as the “planet's lungs”, as they do a huge amount to keep the carbon dioxide levels in equilibrium. Although that has changed. The chase for money and the demand for certain types of farming has stripped large percentages of the world's rainforest and that has contributed to the climate change problem the world is now facing.

The UK has a number of temperate (rather than tropical rainforests), which can be found down the west coastal areas of the mainland countries and in Northern Ireland. This is a hangover from the days when the entire country was wooded or forested. 

That has changed with deforestation programmes in previous centuries, which has impacted indigenous animals, which is why species such as the wild boar and the beaver are essentially extinct (although there are programmes to repopulate certain areas with these lost animals).

Getting to be one with nature - walks in the country, or in a park, or even in a garden or a communal space that has green plants and trees - has been shown to be beneficial for our mental health and general wellbeing. There is also the reality of the habitats that trees and hedgerows provide for bird and animal species.

It is therefore imperative that certain trees are protected, which is why councils manage Tree Preservation Orders (or TPOs).

The Tree Preservation Order

The TPO is a legal instrument, overseen and managed by the council, to prevent a tree being cut down, cut back, removed, pollarded or damaged in any other way, without prior written consent from the council authority, and that with six weeks' notice of any work commencing. 

There is also the replacement clause to a TPO stipulating that anyone found to have damaged the tree in an unauthorised manner is legally and financially required to replace it. 

Anyone can request a TPO to protect any tree - the plant doesn't have to be on your own property, nor does it have to be in its vicinity either.

The TPO doesn't necessarily have to cover just the one tree, as it can be set up to include a pair, a copse, wood or tree-lined avenue - anywhere where trees are growing. The point is that you don't have to raise one TPO request per tree, which means it's more economical for the requester to incorporate any number of trees they want to protect.

What it means to the buyer

It is feasible that any trees on the property you are planning to buy are subject to a preservation order.

If you are unsure whether a particular tree or set of trees has a TPO in place, you can contact your local council for the information - many authorities provide an online facility for you to search. Or failing that, you can look at the open data search facility provided by the government and type in the keywords for your area and the abbreviation ‘TPO'.

TPO information a survey will provide

If you book a RICS Level 2 Survey. (otherwise known as Homebuyers Report) or a RICS Level 3 Survey RICS Level 3 Survey, your appointed chartered surveyor will be checking the state of the grounds and how what's growing might be impacting the building and its foundation.

For example, if the soil is clay-rich, and if it dries out, the soil will naturally contract, causing possible issues such as subsidence (incidentally, the opposite also happens, where a lot of rain might cause the soil to swell and push against the foundations, creating the phenomenon known as heave). 

Trees are particularly thirsty plants, so their long root system will seek out sources of a supply of moisture. If they are close to the building, it is quite possible that they will reach the foundations and dry the surrounding soil out. Each tree species has different root diameters and depths, which your surveyor will help identify.

While a surveyor will not be responsible for checking if TPOs are in place, they can recommend what to do with the tree to prevent potential, or remedy existing, problems. They may recommend further that a tree be cut back or removed in its entirety, highlighting it in the survey as a plan of action needed, as well as redirecting the point to your conveyancing solicitor to take further action with the council to confirm (or otherwise) the existence of any TPOs against trees affecting the property.


In order to understand which trees are likely to impact your prospective property, and if there are any TPOs in place for them, what you need to do as a matter of course is to order a suitable survey. And a survey that has a RICS-qualified chartered surveyor who knows the local area well, and who has long experience of identifying and dealing with the impact of existing trees and their removal.

And that's where it really is worth contacting Surveyor Local

Surveyor Local will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay. 

You'll get one of over 100 fully-qualified RICS surveyors, who is local to the property you are buying so they will know the area and bring all that knowledge to their assessment and analysis of the issues with the new home.

Next-day bookings are usually available, and your appointed surveyor will look after arranging access to the property with the estate agent and the seller. Once the survey is complete, the surveyor will send you a PDF copy of the report by email.

Call  to get your survey quote started, or to discuss your concerns with the acquisition of your planned property.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Surveyor Local's easy-to-use quote generator. Simply input your name, postcode, email address, phone number and an approximate value of the property (usually the agreed price), and we'll give you an instant quote for the survey work (with an email copy sent to you for your records). 

We'll do the rest once you confirm your acceptance of the quote.

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