Tree replacement notices

Last updated: 26 April 2017

If someone removes, uproots or destroys a tree which is protected by a Tree Preservation Order, the local planning authority might send the landowner a tree replacement notice.

This is a notice telling the landowner they must replace the tree by planting another one of an appropriate size or species in the same place.

If you're a landowner and you've been sent a tree replacement notice, it's your responsibility to plant a new tree even if it was removed or destroyed by someone else.

If you don't do this by the time specified by the notice, the planning authority may enter your land, plant the tree itself and charge you for the cost of doing it.

How to appeal

You have the right to appeal to Scottish Ministers if a planning authority sends you a notice telling you to plant a replacement tree. If you want to appeal, you have to do it before the effective date.

The notice will tell you by which date you need to have planted the tree.

Don't worry about the appeal running beyond the date on the notice. As soon as you appeal the notice is suspended, which means you don't have to do anything until a decision has been made.

You can appeal online using the Online Appeal and Application System.

Alternatively, you can download a 'Tree replacement enforcement notice appeal' form and submit it to Scottish Ministers by either email or post to the address on the form. You should also send a copy to the planning authority.

The appeals process

Once you make an appeal, the Scottish Government will appoint a reporter to decide the appeal.

The planning authority must give its response to your appeal within 21 days. You will then have a further 14 days to comment on any new information submitted by the authority.

The appeals process has a strict timetable with deadlines for each stage. If you send information after the deadline, it may be sent back to you and not be considered.

The reporter will consider your appeal and council's response then make a decision as soon as possible.

They may need to get more information before they can decide. If they do, they might ask for:

  • an inspection of the site
  • more written submissions
  • a hearing session (a structured meeting)
  • an inquiry session (a more formal event similar to a court case

Inspection of the site

A site inspection allows a reporter to view the site and understand the issues that have been raised.

The reporter decides if a site inspection will be accompanied or unaccompanied. If it's accompanied, the planning authority and person making the appeal will be invited to attend. Anyone else, like those who have made representations about the appeal, will be told about the arrangements and invited to the site inspection.

The reporter can't discuss the merits of the appeal.

If the reporter chooses an unaccompanied visit, they will inspect the site alone.

If the reporter thinks a decision can be made based on submissions and a site inspection, they will aim to issue a decision within 12 weeks of receiving the appeal.

Further Written submission

If the reporter needs further written submissions they will request it from the person they think will be most suitable to privde it.

If this happens the reporter will aim to issue a decision within 20 weeks of receiving the appeal.

Hearing or public local inquiry

The reporter may decide that the information they need would be best presented at hearing or inquiry session.

The difference between a hearing sessions and an inquiry session is:

  • a hearing session is a structured discussion led by the reporter
  • an inquiry session is more like a court case - witnesses give evidence in front of the reporter

The reporter will decide if a hearing or inquiry session is required. If it is, they will aim to issue the decision on the appeal within 26 weeks (if it's a hearing) or 32 weeks (if it's an inquiry session).

Claiming expenses

You can submit a claim for expenses against a person or organisation if you think they have acted unreasonably and caused you unnecessary expense.

The reporter will decide if they have acted unreasonably and will decide any costs that should be paid to cover these expenses.

The expenses claim is separate to the appeal. If you get awarded expenses this doesn't necessarily mean your appeal will be successful too.

If you want to withdraw your appeal

You must contact the Scottish Government if you want to withdraw your appeal.

You can do this any time before the reporter makes a decision.

Email the Scottish Government at DPEA@gov.scot or write to them at:

Planning and Environmental Appeals Division
4 The Courtyard
Callendar Business Park
Falkirk
FK1 1XR

The decision

After taking all the evidence into account, the reporter will either:

  • support the authority's original decision
  • overturn the authority's decision
  • issue a decision (if the authority originally failed to give one)

You'll get a decision notice sent to you once the reporter has made a decision.

This will include the terms of the decision and the reasons for it.

How to challenge a reporter's decision

You can challenge the reporter's decision at the Court of Session.

You can't appeal the decision because you disagree with it, but you can challenge the decision if you think there was important evidence that the reporter misunderstood or didn't take into account.

If you want to challenge a reporter's decision:

  • the appeal to the Court of Session must be submitted within 42 days (6 weeks) of the date of the decision
  • you may have to cover the legal costs and any expenses should the challenge fail
  • anyone with sufficient interest can submit a challenge