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Richmond Council's response to potential loss of trees near to Twickenham Green

14 January 2022

Richmond upon Thames Councillors will write to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to request a review of Tree Preservation Regulations following concerns raised by residents and local environmental groups on the potential loss of trees near to Twickenham Green.

In November 2021 notice was served upon the Council, outlining the intention to fell trees on land to the rear of properties in Hampton Road, which is in a Conservation Area. There is a tree on the site, a Eucalyptus tree, which is already protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and works to the protected tree have been refused permission by the Council. However, under national planning laws, there is not sufficient reason for the Council to be able to make preservation orders for the other trees. This means the developer can fell the trees.

The issue will be discussed at the next Council meeting.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

"We, along with many residents and environmental groups, are extremely concerned that these trees are important to protecting wildlife in the area, including protected species such as bats, but it is not within the Council’s powers to protect them on those grounds. National TPO legislation and guidance gives limited weight to the importance of trees to nature conservation or mitigating climate change, rather the focus is on the 'amenity value' of trees, for example how visible trees are to the public and whether trees are rare or of historic value. 

"As such, we will call for the Government to review as a matter of urgency the current TPO legislation to give greater weight to the value of trees for wider purposes other than visual amenity. Government policy should reflect the benefits of the tree canopy in relation to mitigating climate change and improving biodiversity, therefore giving local authorities the power to make decisions based on these priorities.

"There is of course national legislation to protect wildlife, such as bats, and we have reminded the owner that they will need to abide by these laws whilst carrying out works to the trees."

Protecting wildlife species are a matter for the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit. 

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Up to: January 2022

Updated: 14 January 2022