To help protect Scotland's forests, a felling licence from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) is required to fell trees. It is an offence to fell without a licence, unless an exemption applies.
Outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum
Following a small number of further confirmed outbreaks in Scotland of the fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora ramorum on larch, Forestry Commission Scotland is proposing to take certain actions with the aim of containing outbreaks and to avoid wider epidemics developing.
We have prepared a document that sets out the latest operational procedures and provides interim guidance, including how we will deal with applications for felling licences and current felling permissions. Download a copy of the interim guidance on Phytophthora ramorum (PDF 33k).
For detailed information about the pathogen please see our pages on Phytophthora ramorum. There is also advice about replanting sites affected by Phytophthora ramorum (PDF 124k).
The quick guide to felling licences
Step 1. Check for any exemptions
- The exemptions section will help you judge whether the felling you plan to carry out is exempt from a licence.
- If none of the exemptions apply then you must apply for a felling licence.
- If you are exempt then felling can proceed, however, always check by contacting Forestry Commission Scotland if you think that you do not need a licence as there can be penalties for felling without one.
Step 2. Check for restrictions in place in the proposed felling area
Use the Land Information Search to see if there is anything about the proposed felling area that you need to take into account, such as Special Protection Areas.
Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 it is an offence to interfere with a badger sett or to kill, or injure badgers. You must take this into account when you plan your felling activities.
Red Squirrels are a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. They are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended.
Step 3. Check for local planning controls
- Consult the local planning authorities to see if they have legal controls in place in the proposed felling area, such as Tree Preservation Orders, or trees within a conservation area.
- Controls may also exist that apply to the movement of timber. If in doubt, check with FCS Plant Health Service (Tel: 0131 314 6414).
- When considering the route you might use to transport your timber there are Agreed Routes Maps (ARMs) drawn up by Councils in consultation with Regional Timber Transport Groups. These will help you identify the most suitable route for timber haulage. The aim is to keep timber traffic off the most vulnerable roads by directing it along any stronger routes that are available. More details, including a link to the ARMs, are available on the Timber Transport Forum website.
- For details of other controls that can apply to felling, see other legal felling controls.
Step 4. Complete a felling licence application
- Complete the Felling licence (Scotland) application form (PDF 78k) and attach a signed and dated map showing the boundary of the proposed area. For full details of the process, see applying for a felling licence.
- See also: The booklet Tree Felling - Getting Permission (1.8 Mb) which summarises the relevant information on getting permission to fell.