Last Night’s Cabinet Meeting – And Tree Preservation Orders

Last night’s cabinet meeting wasn’t very exciting, , and lasted just over an hour. The most interesting discussion was about Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

County Councils used to be responsible for creating all TPOs, until 1974 when District Councils took this over. So we have quite a lot of trees in our district protected by an Essex County Council TPO.

However, the County Council wants to end it’s involvement with TPOs altogether and leave each district to deal with their own patch.

Her’e the County Council minute, (you can download the document here)

49. Essex County Council Tree Preservation Orders The Cabinet considered a report by the Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning and Assets (CAB/030/07) which sought approval for proposals to improve the legal protection of trees in Essex by transferring responsibility for Tree Preservation Orders made originally by the County Council to a more local level.

Essex County Council (ECC) made its first Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in 1949 making early use of powers under the new ?Planning? Act. Orders are now normally made at district level and Government guidance is that they should be reviewed. It is therefore proposed that all orders should be resurveyed in partnership with district/borough councils. The County will then revoke the original orders, which will be superseded by new orders, made at district level. This should improve the quality of the service and simplify the service provided to residents of Essex, improve the protection of important trees and allow decisions to be made at a more local level.

Resolved

1. That the Council seek to work in agreement with district and borough councils to ensure important trees within Essex, currently protected by an ECC TPO, continue to receive protection once the ECC TPO has been revoked; and

2. That a target date of 31 March 2010 to complete the resurvey and revocation of all ECC TPOs be agreed.

What this means is that the County Council is going to cancel all it’s existing TPOs over the next three years. The District Council will be obliged to resurvey all the trees involved to check that they are still worth preserving, and then bring in a replacement TPO for each tree involved.

Obviously this is going to cost the District Council time and money. There’s also the potential for making a mistake and leaving an old tree unprotected and vulnerable to an unscrupulous landowner.

The District Council report last night said:

Members will be aware of the previous offer of temporary admin support to facilitate the transfer of TPOs that was rejected. The decision to cancel all TPOs has now been taken by the County and is to be phased over three years. Whilst the need for technical support for the district has been acknowledged, it is clear that this will only be for a temporary period. No specific proposal or timetable for Rochford has been identified. Negotiations are continuing and an officer meeting is planned shortly.