Homeowners in the UK have been issued a warning about the 'huge' fines they could face for trimming trees. 

A team of experts has urged Brits to check if any trees in their gardens are protected before carrying out any pruning. 

They have been warned that homeowners need to apply for permission to carry out works on trees that are protected by the Tree Preservation Order.

If they don't, they could be hit with an unlimited fine or even a criminal record.

The warning comes from expert Chris Bonnett from Gardening Express who has urged people to check whether trees in their garden are protected before carrying out work.

What is a Tree Protection Order? 

Anyone found guilty of deliberately damaging or removing a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order could face big penalties, according to the Gardening Pro.

The expert explained that a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) protects a tree from deliberate damage or removal.

The person who carried out the work faces unlimited fines if they’re found guilty and may even get a criminal record.

Chris continued by explaining that the order is made by local planning authorities.

It prohibits the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage and wilful destruction of the tree without written consent.

The order can be used to protect individual trees, trees within an area, groups of trees and even whole woodlands.

Chris added: "The person who has cut or damaged the tree is liable - this could be the current homeowner, former homeowner or a professional paid to carry out the works - and you can be found guilty even if you were unaware the order was in place."

When it comes to fines, consideration of the damage caused is taken into account.

The expert elaborated: "If the removal or damage adds value to your property, the fine will reflect this and it can go up at a later date".

However, Chris advised that this doesn’t mean you can’t touch or maintain the tree, you just need written permission for any work to be carried out.

Chris Bonnett continued: “Tree Preservation Orders can be a headache to navigate and if you cause damage, even unknowingly, you can be hit with a big fine and a criminal record.

“If you want to carry out work then you will need permission from the local authority who may impose conditions and limit the work that can be carried out.

“They are in place for a reason - to protect trees and woodland which, if removed, would have a big impact on the local environment and their enjoyment by people.

“But if they’re in your back garden or are on adjacent land overhanging your garden, they can make regular care more tricky.

Recommended reading

“If the tree is in your garden, it is your responsibility to upkeep and care for it.

"Apply for permission from your local authority a few months before any work needs to be carried out. This includes all work, whether that’s gentle pruning or a much bigger job.

“If the tree is in a conservation area, notice must be given six weeks before, and if the council refuses or people object, then another TPO could be placed on the tree.

“If a tree is dying or is a health and safety risk, and action is needed urgently, you still need permission and need to contact your local authority at least five days before works are due to be carried out.”

Chris concluded: “If you’re unsure about trees in your garden, check them out before carrying out any work just to be on the safe side.

"An unlimited fine and criminal record are harsh penalties and not ones anyone wants.”