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Local Development Plan

Trees and Hedges

Photograph of a tree

Trees are an important part of our landscape and environment; they take decades to mature but only minutes to remove or harm. Trees soften urban landscapes, adding variety and a quality to the character of an area.

Many parts of the Borough have good tree cover but they are a finite resource and can be often threatened by insensitive development, therefore, where they do exist their contribution is valued.

Tress offer aesthetic and amenity value, and can act as landmark features within our settlements and open countryside. They contribute to nature conservation and increase biodiversity, and often have historic and recreational value. Other less obvious benefits of trees include, improving air quality by trapping air-borne pollutants, providing a cooling effect and shade in summer, reducing noise and the release of oxygen and increase resilience to climate change. Overall trees help generate a feeling of ‘well-being’.

We are committed to conserving and retaining existing trees and other features where it is considered that they have landscape or amenity value, and will use its powers to protect trees where necessary. 

Careful retention of existing trees, hedgerows and shrubs as part of a development can ensure that new buildings will be integrated into a mature landscape, thus raising the overall quality of the scheme. To maximise such benefits it is essential that existing trees are protected through the design and construction phase until the completion of the scheme. Taking appropriate measures at the design stage can prevent damaged or dying trees becoming a source of complaint and concern at a later date.

Trees are easily damaged and they are extremely vulnerable to development pressures. Much of the damage that occurs to trees may take years to become evident resulting in deterioration of health to the extent that the tree has to be removed some time after the development scheme has been completed. It is vitally important to protect trees during construction and to allow enough space in the design of a development to allow trees to flourish and to limit any nuisance they may cause. It is only by considering trees at the design stage that they will be successfully incorporated into a development. As a minimum, any activity, works, fires 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.  

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

A TPO is a statutory protection afforded to trees. There are a number of TPOs within our area, an online map of current TPOs within the Borough can be accessed here. To be considered for a TPO, trees must be of a high amenity value and be in a reasonable condition. TPOs are imposed to protect selected trees or woodland if their removal is likely to have a significant detrimental impact on the amenity of 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 prior 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 submit the following information:

  • Indicate clearly the trees involved, and provide the tree number if available, a copy of the tree identification map can be provided at a small cost.
  • Clearly identify their locations.
  • Provide a detailed explanation of the extent of the work you wish to carry out and the reasons why you wish to carry out the work, and
  • You may wish to obtain the advice of a qualified arboriculturist.

A copy of our Works to Trees Application form can be downloaded and can be returned either by post to:

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
Planning Department
182 Galgorm Road
Ballymena
BT42 1QF

or by emailing: planning@midandeastantrim.gov.uk

Wel will consider the application and may grant approval, grant approval subject to condition or refuse consent. For works to trees covered by a TPO it may take up to eight weeks from the receipt of your application until a decision is made. For works to trees in a Conservation Area, it may up to six weeks from the date that you sign and submit the form to us. The applications are free of charge. 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 sufficient proof (in the form of photographs and a report) can be submitted to us to demonstrate that this is the case, best practice dictates that we should be made aware of the proposed works at least 5 working days to them being carried out.  If a dead or dangerous tree is removed, we retains the right to require the replanting of tree(s) of an appropriate size and species in the same location as soon as is reasonable, or in another suitable location as agreed by us. Priority will be given to the protection of those tree(s) deemed to be at immediate risk from active felling or damage from development on site. All other requests will be assessed and prioritised accordingly. Anyone who is unsure as to the condition of a tree is advised to obtain the advice of a qualified arboriculturist.

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 we consider that the proposed works should not be carried out, we 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.

Trees protected by Planning Condition

We, when granting Planning permission for development, may in some cases require existing trees to be retained as a condition of the Planning Permission, even if they are not protected by a TPO or in a Conservation Area, the prior consent of the Council may be required to undertake works or remove these tree(s).

In many cases, our Arboriculturist and/or a Planning Officer will need to enter your garden to carry out the tree survey. They will carry an identity card issued by the Council. If you have any doubts about the identity of somebody claiming to be employed by the Council, please contact the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Planning Department on T: 0300 200 7830