The law in the United Kingdom regarding trees, structures and their interaction is surprisingly complex. It is not always easy to determine who is responsible for what, and there are a number of different pieces of legislation that can come into play. In this article, we will attempt to give a brief overview of the law in this area, and how it affects people living in the UK. Trees have been regulated in the UK since the 19th century, when the first Tree Preservation Order (TPO) was introduced. TPOs are made by local authorities in order to protect trees that are considered to be of special value to the local area. Trees that are subject to a TPO cannot be felled or pruned without the permission of the local authority, and anyone who contravenes a TPO can be liable for a fine of up to £20,000(and more in certain circumstances). There are also a number of statutory protections that apply to trees, regardless of whether or not they are subject to a TPO. For example, the Highways Act 1980 requires that any tree that overhangs a public highway must be trimmed so that it does not obstruct the highway. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 also contains a number of provisions relating to trees, including a requirement that local authorities take trees into account when making planning decisions. The law surrounding structures and their interaction with trees is also complex. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 sets out the law in relation to party walls and adjoining land, and includes a number of provisions relating to trees. The law in relation to trees, structures and their interaction is complex and can be difficult to navigate. If you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities, it is advisable to seek legal advice and speak to an experienced arboricultural consultant.
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