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Development and Tree Felling

You need a felling licence from the Forestry Commission to fell trees, unless an exemption applies. Full planning permission for a development automatically provides an exemption for felling trees.

Outline planning permission does not provide an exemption to the regulations that control tree felling in the Forestry Act 1967. This is because, until the reserve matters have been addressed and discharged by the planning authority, the development may not proceed. Consequently there is no immediate requirement for the tree felling under the planning consent.

The Forestry Commission will only award a felling licence if the proposals for tree felling are consistent with good forestry practice as outlined in the UK Forestry Standard. Typically a licence will require restocking (replanting).

Without planning permission or a felling licence, felling trees may be an offence under the Forestry Act 1967 (as amended). Therefore it is important to ensure that trees that you wish to remove for development are within the area included for full planning permission.

An offence under the Forestry Act (as amended) may lead to a Notice being issued which requires the land to be re-stocked with trees, and for those trees to be maintained for 10 years.  Such a Notice can be issued with or without a prosecution for the offense. 

The felling licence process is described in the Quick Guide and full details are available in the booklet Tree Felling - Getting Permission (PDF 1748kb)

The Forestry Commission is the competent authority under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999. Local Authorities are the competent authority under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999. The relationship between the two sets of regulations can be complex so you may need to seek further advice regarding trees and woodlands from the Forestry Commission

As part of the planning process, the local authority will provide a screening opinion as to whether or not an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed under the Town and Country Planning Regulations. If an EIA is not considered under these regulations but the proposal includes afforestation, deforestation (i.e. the removal of trees and woodlands), forest roads or forestry quarries you may need consent from us under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999.

Other legal controls on tree felling are mainly covered by Tree Preservation Orders and the Hedgerow Regulations. This legislation is administered by local planning authorities