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Trees and Hedges

 

Trees and hedges in the landscape perform a number of functions.  They are of aesthetic and amenity value, and act as landmark features in urban and rural areas. They also have nature conservation, historic and recreational value.  Trees in the Northern Ireland landscape are limited, therefore, where they do exist their contribution is valued.  The Council is committed to conserve and retain existing trees and other features where these are of landscape or amenity value, and will use its powers to protect trees where necessary. 

 

Where these features exist on or adjacent to a site, they should be highlighted in site appraisals and the measures to ensure their retention and long-term maintenance outlined.  This will include their protection during construction.  As a minimum, any activity, works or storage around trees should be kept away from the limit of the crown spread or a distance of half the height of the tree, whichever is the greater.  Secure fencing shall be erected around this area prior to any activity, works or storage and maintained throughout until site completion.  Further guidance on the protection of trees is set out the publication ‘Trees and Development – A Guide to Best Practice, available from the Planning Office or the planning portal website.  

 

Policy ENV3, Volume 1 of the Northern Area Plan 2016 relates to trees and hedges and advises that development that would result in the loss of trees, hedges or other features that contribute to the character of the landscape, or are of nature conservation value, will not be permitted unless provision is made for appropriate replacement planting and the creation of new features.

 

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

 

A TPO is a statutory protection afforded to trees. There are a number of TPOs within Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area. To be considered for a TPO, trees must be of high amenity value and in a reasonable condition. TPOs are imposed to protect selected trees or woodland if their removal is likely to have a significant impact on the local environment.

 

It is a criminal offence to cut down, lop, top, uproot or wilfully damage a protected tree in a manner likely to destroy it, without the consent of the Council and, on summary conviction, you could be fined up to £100, 000 (and on conviction on indictment, to an unlimited fine).

 

If you wish to carry out works to protected trees, you must first apply for consent from the Council's Planning Section.  You must:

  • Clearly specify the trees involved,
  • Identify their locations on a suitably scaled map
  • The extent of the work you wish to carry out and the reasons why you wish to carry out the work.
  • You may wish to obtain the advice of a qualified arboriculturist.

 

The Council will consider the application and may grant approval, grant approval subject to condition or refuse consent.

Please note that anyone can apply to carry out works, even if you are not the owner. If approval is granted you would, however, require the owner’s consent prior to entering his land or carrying out works on or from his property.

 

Currently consent is not required for the removal of dead or dangerous trees which are protected by a TPO, however, the owner must ensure that proof can be provided to the Council to demonstrate that this is the case.  Anyone who is unsure as to the condition of a tree is advised to obtain the advice of a qualified arboriculturist.  Where a dead or dangerous tree is removed, the Council has the right to require the replanting of a tree of an appropriate size and species in the same location as soon as is reasonable.  It is recommended that the Council is made aware of the proposed works prior to them being carried out.

 

Regardless of whether a tree is protected or not, the landowner remains responsible for the management of the trees, their condition and any liability in relation to damage they may cause.

 

Trees in a Conservation Area

 

Trees in a Conservation Area are also subject to protection as if a TPO is in place. In a Conservation Area, anyone proposing to carry out works to trees must apply to the Council's Planning Section to consider the proposal and respond within 6 weeks.  If the Council considers 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 satisfy the Council by submitting evidence in the form of a report and photographs.

 

General guidance can be found in the following information leaflet provided by the DOE; Tree Preservation Orders: A Guide to Protected Trees


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