Getting permission to fell trees

What you need to consider before starting any felling work

Coronavirus update

 

Felling licence applications and Environment Impact Screening 

 

We are processing felling licence applications and Environment Impact Screening Requests as normal. We aim to complete these in the standard timescales. If there are delays with your application we will keep you informed and may request additional time to make our determination.

 

We are not carrying out site visits for these applications unless there is an essential reason i.e. a significant environmental concern. If a site visit is required, we will follow the Government guidance on social distancing. We would not expect to meet site managers, but we will contact them in advance to ensure we can conduct it safely.

 

Our licensing staff are working from home and can be contacted via email on fellinglicence@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

 

Find out more in our response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before planning to fell any trees check if you need a felling licence.

You must also check if you need a:

  • species licence
  • permission from your local authority
  • or permission from Cadw

Everyone involved in the felling of trees (the owner, agent and timber merchant or contractor) must ensure that the correct licence or permission has been issued before any felling is carried out.

Felling licence exemptions

You do not need a felling licence to fell trees in:

  • a garden
  • an orchard
  • a churchyard
  • a public open space such as land laid out as a public garden

or to carry out lopping and topping, such as:

  • pollarding
  • pruning
  • crown lifting
  • crown reduction

You do not need a felling licence:

  • to fell less than five cubic metres in a calendar quarter as long as no more than 2 cubic metres are sold
  • for trees that have the following diameters when measured 1.3 metres from the ground:
    • 8 cm or less
    • 10 cm or less, for thinnings
    • 15 cm or less, for cutting coppice
  • if you have a valid permission, granted in accordance with planning permission (according to the Town and Country Planning Act).
  • to comply with an Act of Parliament, such as a notice served by a highway authority
  • to enable you to carry out work as a statutory undertaker, for example gas, electricity and water services
  • if we have issued a Statutory Plant Health Notice (SPHN)

Dangerous trees

You do not need a felling licence to fell dangerous trees.

We recommend you email fellinglicence@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk before carrying out work to dangerous trees. We may be able to give you advice that would minimise the danger without any felling.

A dangerous tree is one where there is a real and immediate danger, rather than a perceived danger.

If you are challenged you will need to provide evidence that the trees were dangerous, for example through an accredited arboriculturalist's report or photographic evidence.

European Protected Species

A European Protected Species (EPS) licence may be required under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2017) if felling operations could adversely affect any EPS.

The majority of felling operations will be able to proceed without a licence even in the presence of EPS, providing that good practice guidance is followed. However you must research what species records are available, survey your woodland for evidence of species and manage your woodland accordingly.

Use our interactive map to check for the presence of European Protected Species or search via NBN Atlas Wales before starting any felling work.

Print and complete the European protected species checklist when you begin to plan what work you want to do. This is for your records only. It will help provide some evidence that you have considered protected wildlife if your operations are later challenged

Find out more about European Protected Species (EPS) restrictions and how apply for wildlife licences so you can legally operate in woodlands and forests.

Felling near protected sites

Some sites have special status as protected areas or land and sea due to their natural and cultural importance.

These sites include:

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)
  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs)
  • Ramsar sites

You should tell us in your felling licence application if your proposed work will take place:

  • within a protected site
  • or impact a protected site

Even if the woodland itself is outside the site.

If you don't tell us then your felling licence will not cover this aspect of your work and you may be committing an offence.

You can use our online tool to find out more about protected areas of land. Or if you're not sure that your proposed operations may affect a protected site, please email fellinglicence@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk so we can discuss this with you.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)

When you apply for a tree felling licence, you must tell us if the trees to be felled are covered by a TPO or are in a conservation area.

We will consult directly with the local planning authority about your application. If you do not to tell us that there is a TPO or conservation area present then your licence will not cover the felling of your trees and you may be committing an offence.

Tree preservation orders are made by the local planning authority, usually the local council, to protect specific trees and woodland from deliberate damage and destruction.

If you do not need a tree felling licence from us because your work is exempt, you will need consult with your local planning authority before starting work.

Find further information on Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and conservation areas or contact us directly.

Working on hedgerows

You will need to apply for a felling licence if you plan on felling trees within a hedgerow and your work is not covered by the felling licence exemptions.

You will need to consult your local planning authority if you plan on removing your hedgerow. This is required under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997.

If you receive any agricultural subsidies certain operations on hedgerows can result in a breach of cross compliance and a financial penalty. You should discuss this with your Glastir woodland advisor if you have one and liaise directly with the local planning authority as required.

Scheduled ancient monuments

If you're planning felling that might affect a scheduled ancient monument, check if you need consent from Cadw (Welsh Government’s historic environment service) before you start.

If you're applying for a felling licence you should tell us if you have been in touch with Cadw.

Forest management plan

As a woodland owner or manager, you might want to consider creating a forest management plan which describes how you intend to manage your forest or woodland sustainably.

Within this plan you can detail long-term felling proposals over a ten to twenty-year period and use the approved plan to apply for a felling licence for up to 10 years.

Find out how to create a forest management plan to support sustainable management of your woodland.

Felling within a Glastir scheme

If you propose to carry out felling or thinning as part of a Glastir scheme it is your responsibility to apply for a felling licence if you need one. ​

Penalties for felling without a licence

It is an offence to fell licensable trees without having obtained a licence or other valid permission.

This can mean, on conviction, a fine of up to £2,500 or twice the value of the trees, whichever is the higher. This applies to everyone involved in the felling of trees, for example the owner, agent, timber merchant or contractor.

If we are satisfied that the owner or lessee has committed an offence then we have the power to serve a restocking notice for the land concerned to be replanted with trees. We also have the power to prosecute the offender.

Restocking notices require the replacement trees to be maintained to an acceptable standard for up to 10 years. If you do not comply with the conditions of a felling licence or a restocking notice then we have the power to issue an enforcement notice requiring you to take action to meet the conditions.

It is an offence not to obey an enforcement notice and can result in an unlimited fine.

Illegal felling is a breach of cross compliance and can result in a financial penalty being imposed on your direct payments. Attempting to market illegally felled timber is an offence under the Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2013.​