Planning my forestry project
It is never too early to consider the environmental issues that may arise with your forestry project and how you might avoid or minimise any impacts.
Researching the environmental considerations and ensuring compliance with the UK Forest Standard at the earliest opportunity will give you more time to develop and amend your projects to avoid problems arising later.
Submitting all your research to us allows us to consider your project under Environmental Impact Assessment screening to determine whether there is likely to be a significant impact on the environment.
Pre application advice
We encourage you to discuss your proposed project with us at an early stage so that the environmental risks can be identified and inform the development of your project. This will allow you to prepare a sustainable forestry proposal.
With regard to woodland creation projects, we are also able to offer you advice on grassland habitats that are within the potential boundary of your proposal as part of our pre application service.
By taking advantage of the pre application advice we can offer you and using this guidance, you can combine your professionalism and due diligence to produce a proposal for all projects above and below the thresholds.
Please contact us on email for pre application advice relating to your projects.
Using our pre application advice, together with other data gathering for your project, will give you a clear picture of what needs to be considered in your project design when submitting your screening opinion request.
Do I need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening?
If your project falls below threshold, you may not need to ask for EIA screening, but we can still offer the same advice and expect you to create a professional and diligent plan. You may be in breach of the Forestry EIA Regulations, if your plan does not follow our advice, even if is below the thresholds.
It may help if you keep an issues log from the early stages of your planning. This will help you record your way through the process and can show discussions with stakeholders, NRW and provide a basis for follow up action. Good use of these documents will evidence a transparent and professional approach which will help facilitate assessment of your proposal. This will also help NRW see all the sensitivities and issues that are present within your project and how each one has been dealt with in a clear and consistent way.
Projects, thresholds and locations
If your project is above the area threshold (Table 1), you can find out whether you need an EIA consent from us by completing and submitting the opinion form.
Projects below the threshold may still require consent where NRW considers that, despite their smaller size, they are likely to have significant effects on the environment (for example, where they may affect a particularly sensitive habitat) or are considered an exceptional circumstance.
The sensitive areas listed in the regulations are detailed below.
The current thresholds at which an EIA consent must be sought, from Paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 and Regulation 3(3) of the EIA Forestry Regulations are set out in Table 1.
|Threshold for requiring screening where any part of the land is in a sensitive area
|Threshold where no part of the land is in a sensitive area
Afforestation (where land has not previously been forestry)
2 hectares where the land is within a National Park, AONB
0 hectares in all other sensitive areas – screening opinion under Forestry EIA Regulations is always required from the Permitting Team (Forestry).
(Where forestry is being converted to another land use)
0.5 hectares where the land is within a National Park, AONB
0 hectare in all other sensitive areas – screening opinion under Forestry EIA Regulations is always required from the Permitting Team (Forestry).
0 hectares – screening opinion under Forestry EIA Regulations is always required from the Permitting Team (Forestry).
0 hectares – screening opinion under Forestry EIA Regulations is always required from the Permitting Team (Forestry).
Table 1 Schedule 2 Relevant Projects Thresholds
What information should a proposer provide in order to complete your EIA screening form?
You will need to provide the following information to complete your form, although you can at any point save and close your form to return to at a later date.
Please note: This information is to help you submit an application right first time, which will allow us to process applications promptly. Any applications that do not have the required information or correct maps will be returned without being registered.
The sections below will follow the order in which they occur on the online form.
Your name, organisation, address, contact phone number, email and whether you are the landowner. If this is not the address for correspondence, please provide the details for correspondence. If you are completing the form as an agent on behalf of the landowner, you will need to complete your details too.
Please provide the name of the property, 8 figure Grid reference - for example SO 123456), Local Authority and nearest town.
Please list the hectares of your project that fall within the sensitive areas below. Sensitive areas are listed in Schedule 2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry)(England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (amended):
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Proposed Sites of Special Scientific Interest (PSSSI)
- National Park
- World Heritage Site
- Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM)
- Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- National Sites Network (formerly known as Natura 2000 Sites i.e. Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Areas (SPA))
- Ramsar Sites
We would like you to provide a project overview, detailing the total hectares of your project.
Afforestation – hectares and percentage broadleaves, conifers and open space
Deforestation – hectares and percentage broadleaves and conifers
Forest roads – Dimensions (length and width) NB if you have other infrastructure, such as loading bays, ramps, include the dimensions as a whole here and please detail these in your description below
Forest quarries – hectares
You will be required to upload maps or plans sufficient to identify the land and the project proposals
You must provide us with an original map or a good quality photocopy. The map must be signed or authenticated by the project proposer and dated.
We would expect to see as separate documents
- Location map (it should be easy to find where in Wales your project is)
- Constraints and opportunities map (detail any sensitivities and in and around your project boundary, watercourses etc.)
- Operations map detailing what you are intending to do (include woodland design, fencing, access etc)
- Additional maps should be used as required to show further information about the site and wider surrounding influences. For example, if you would like to send in maps in a different scale or with the information spread across more maps.
Before you mark the maps, check that:
- The map is up-to-date, and of Ordnance Survey origin;
- It is presented at a suitable scale of either 1:10,000, 1:5,000 or 1:2,500;
- The map scale is shown, and relevant detail are visible;
Marking the maps
- Clearly show the location of the project boundary
- Any colour used must not obliterate the base map detail
- Mark the grid reference of the centre of the project
- If the point of access to the area is not obvious, mark this on the map also
- Do not use a map used for a previous application
- Map Legend or Key to be provided
Project details and impact
You should provide the following information. This is in accordance with EIA Forestry regulation 5 (2) and Schedule 2(A):
We use this information you provide here to determine if your project is likely to have significant effects on the environment. Therefore, you must provide us with sufficient detail about your project, the environment at your proposed location, any impacts that your project might have together with any mitigation or avoidance measures you are proposing.
The wording in the online form uses the terminology from the legislation, the information below provides a clearer guide to what is required.
Description and location
Please provide a description of the project including a description of the physical characteristics of the whole project and a description of the location of the project, with particular regard to the environment sensitivity of geographical areas likely to be affected.
As a minimum, we would expect to see details on the following points:
- Aims and objectives of the project proposal
- The size (hectares) including open ground and design of the project. This should include tree species, establishment methods to be used, type/size of stone and set out how you will be using the land and any other natural resources. You should ensure this complies with the design advice in the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS)
- A description of the location of the project
- The duration of different parts of the project e.g. over what time period will planting occur, and a detailed account of how the woodland be managed once planted?
- Briefly tell us about any part of your project that will avoid, prevent or reduce what might otherwise potentially result in a significant adverse effect on the environment and detail how it does so. This is usually called mitigation; You will be asked to expand on this later on.
- Any waste that will be produced, and how this will be dealt with
- Any pollution that could occur from the project
- Could your project be affected by a major accident/disaster, or have the potential to change the impact (increase or decrease) of any type of major disaster? In general, major accidents and/or disasters should be considered as part of an assessment where the project has the potential to cause the loss of life, permanent injury and/or temporary or permanent destruction of an environmental receptor which cannot be restored through minor clean-up and restoration e.g. pollution of a water course during extreme weather, land slip as a result of deforestation, the effect of pest or disease on tree health
- Are there any risks to human health of the public from any stage of your project? e.g. the potential for water contamination
- Priority habitats listed under S7 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2017 as being types of habitat which in the opinion of Welsh Government are of principal importance for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in relation to Wales
- You should also identify any other Forestry projects adjacent or nearby commenced within the previous 5 years, which may have a cumulative effect on the environment. Please use our pre application advice offer to help you determine this
- Details of stakeholder engagement you have carried out. The ConFor guidance and the UK Forestry Standard can provide useful tools for planning stakeholder engagement.
Please provide a description of the aspects of the environment that are likely to be significantly affected by your project:
About 30% of Wales' land and waters have been chosen as special sites either for their wildlife, their scenic beauty, heritage or their value as geological sites.
You should identify if your project is within, or close to any sensitive area. It is possible for your project to impact on a sensitive area even if they do not occur within the boundaries of your project, for example, your project may have a watercourse running through it which is a tributary to a SAC.
It is important to understand that designation is just a formal recognition of value, in statute or in policy and other, non-designated areas may be of otherwise similar value. The absence of a formal designation must not infer no value and must still be considered in your proposal.
For this section of the form, you should describe the aspects of the environment that are on and around your proposed project area and maybe be impacted by your proposal.
Woodland creation projects
You should check our interactive map viewer and WG’s Woodland Opportunities map for any sensitive areas or features on or near your project. Note that the interactive map viewer or the other datasets will not provide you with all the up to date information on protected species and habitats and a site visit is strongly recommended to confirm if sensitive features are present. You should consider the need for a suitable survey of the proposed planting area or as a minimum submit sufficient photographic evidence with your application to inform us of the nature of the habitats within the planting area and how these can be integrated into a planting design.
The interactive maps and other information referred to above will help you identify any of the following near your project. A good starting point would be to follow the EIA guidance and GN002 on the Glastir pages which suggests consideration of the following categories. This is also available as web pages. Although this guidance is for EIA screening, it does mirror many of the considerations that a Glastir Woodland Creation project would require:
- Designations – SSSI, National Site Network (these used to be referred to as Natura 2000 sites) - Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
- Priority Habitats (Use GN009 & WG guidance to help with this)
- Fauna – such as Great crested newts, Red squirrels, Water voles, Pearl bordered fritillary,Golden Plover, Chough, Lapwing, Curlew
- Soils – describe soil type
- Water – Failing and at risk catchments, water body status, proximity to flood defences
- Archaeology – Scheduled Ancient Monuments, Registered historic parks and gardens, UNESCO sites, Historic environment features
- Landscape – National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Regional Important geodiversity sites, Special landscape areas
- Access – Public rights of way, Open access land, Common land
- Community – involve those with a recognisable interest in the new planting site
- Ramsar Sites
- Existing features such as woodland, veteran trees
Other forestry projects
Many of the consideration for woodland creation will be relevant for other deforestation, roads and quarry projects. The Lle maps may have lots of useful information for you, but also use NRW’s map browser together with other sources of information you may have access to. This will help you find out and describe the sensitivities on and nearby your project.
With the information you find from the initial checks above, you should consider if your project could have an effect on:
- Nature of land – describe what the current habitat type is and how this would change as a result of your project. Consider woodland (tree species and age), arable, improved grassland, scrub and priority habitat
- Will the project affect the water environment - for example will it include water course crossings or affect watercourses and their status
- Acid sensitive catchments - see our guidance on managing forests to avoid impacts on acid sensitive catchments, UKFS buffer zones,
- Landscape context. This includes designations such as, AONB, Historic landscape, Special Landscape Areas, the visual landscape, historic and cultural landscape, and geological landscape – you can find information about landscapes and our landscape datasets on our LANDMAP web pages;
- Soils - what might be the impact to your soil types e.g. deep peat
- Access e.g. will public rights of way or open access land be affected
- Are there any other projects adjoining or near to your proposed project – we would expect you to consider any other projects within 500m
- Within close proximity to SSSI and National Site Network, formerly Natura 2000 sites (SAC/SPAs)
- Stakeholders stakeholder-engagement-2018-wales
- Any other information you may wish to provide about the project
Please tell us if you have checked for the categories above and tell us what you have found even if they are not present e.g. no landscapes designations found within the project area or the immediate surrounds, or AONB boundary on the southern end of the proposal. This could be documented on an issues log.
Potential impacts of your project
From the information you have identified in sensitivities, describe the likely significant effects your project may have on these factors.
This section requires you to describe the characteristics of your project that may cause a significant impact on the sensitive environments you have identified.
For example, planting of alder within the riparian zone with in a failing catchment could lead to increased acidification or delay the recovery of the catchment.
You will have the opportunity to describe your actions to mitigate against any significant effects in avoidance or mitigation.
Please include an overview of the stakeholder engagement that you have carried out.
The extent of public engagement should be in proportion to the nature and scale of the planting proposal, but as a minimum, close neighbours and those whose land adjoins the new woodland creation proposal should be engaged. Please let us know:
- Who have you contacted,
- How have your engaged with them – email, letter drop, meeting
- Include how you have incorporated them into your plan, including resolving concerns raised in avoidance or mitigation
- You can also upload your issues log to show stakeholder concerns as well as wider environmental consultations and data reviews
Avoidance or mitigation
Please describe the mitigation you will use for your proposal.
It is possible to propose mitigation for consideration at the screening opinion stage.
The proposed mitigation should be supported by evidence to allow NRW to reach a reasoned conclusion on the need or otherwise for EIA. It needs to be clear how such measures result in the prevention or avoidance of significant impacts.
Reference and demonstration of siting and design according to the UK Forestry Standard may assist in making the case.
You will now be at the end of your form and you will be asked to tick a box that you understand what you have supplied is correct to the best of your knowledge and you can then click on the submit box to submit your form to us.
When you can expect our decision
If we consider that you have not provided enough information to allow us to give a screening opinion, we will request further information from you. We will ask for this information to be provided within a reasonable timeframe.
Please note: Where applications fall significantly short of the information requirements then the application will be returned without being registered.
Once we have enough information to give an opinion, we will issue our opinion within 28 days. We might ask you to agree a longer period.
We will inform you of our decision either by letter or email. Work must not start until you are in receipt of our formal opinion.
If consent is NOT required
If you receive our written confirmation that consent is not required then you can start work straight away, if no further approvals are required e.g. felling licence, General Permitted Development Order (‘Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995’ SI 418) . Where applicable, we will continue to process your application for grant aid or a felling licence in the normal way.
If consent IS required
If we inform you, in writing, that consent is required for your project, you must submit an application for consent if you wish to proceed to the scoping of the EIA. Your application must include an Environmental Statement. For further information, please see the EIA Apply for our consent page
Other consent or authorisations such as a Habitats Regulations Assessment may also be required.
Validity period of our decisions
Any decision we make about whether or not you need consent for the work will be valid for a period of five years, or for any period shorter than that which we may specify