From Kate Tobin of the Forestry Commision
Felling Licence Online
We have replaced our old felling licence processing system with a new digital service called Felling Licence Online. Using this new service you can apply for, track and print felling licences for land in your ownership or authorise an agent to do so on your behalf. If you are an agent you can manage applications for all of your clients in one place and keep track of progress. You log into the system, upload your details and that of your holding(s) and the information will be stored, making it much faster to apply next time and quicker to process at our end too. There is a summary in the attached PDF or more detailed guidance if you follow the link above.
We have started the year with a flurry of site inspections where people have reported felling of trees over the holiday period. Some of these turn out to be less than the legal threshold and therefore fine, but many are over the threshold and have occurred due to a lack of knowledge or even deliberate flouting of the law. The law dates back to 1967 and is there to ensure that woodlands and hedgerows are sustainably managed for the long term, protecting against their loss.
A felling licence is required by law if you fell more than 5m³ in one calendar quarter. If you are selling the wood – for logs, for example – then you can only fell 2m³ in a calendar quarter. This applies to trees in hedges as well as woodlands. There are some exemptions and more detail to the law, so please visit the Tree Felling: overview page on Gov.uk for a reminder on the regulations.
An FC-approved woodland management plan can include a 10 year felling licence to carry out the operations agreed in your plan. We would strongly recommend that follow this option if you are going to be working your woodland regularly. You can find out more about creating a management plan and applying for a grant on our website.
If you are a landowner with an agri-environment agreement, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that you may also need a felling licence for any work detailed in the agreement. The grant agreement does not give you an automatic right to fell. It’s really important that, where necessary, you apply for a felling licence, even for coppicing or felling in hedges. This is to ensure sustainable woodland management and habitat protection. All agents and contractors should be aware of this but it’s the responsibility of the landowner to ensure that all laws are complied with, so it’s important to get good advice and know the law yourself.
Countryside Stewardship agreements which support the conversion of woodland to an open habitat (eg heathland, culm grassland) may also be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations so please use the guidance in this link to check the thresholds and make sure you’re staying within the law.
Always check if there any Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) or Conservation Areas covering the trees when you apply for a felling licence. At the point of application you have to declare if there are any TPOs on the trees and getting this wrong – deliberately or otherwise – can lead to a prosecution. You can often check this on your local authority’s planning portal, but if not you may need to email them a map to check.
Change of email address
A final reminder that all our email addresses have now changed and the old ones will not work for much longer. Forest Services staff have become firstname.lastname@example.org and Forest Enterprise staff have become email@example.com. Please amend any contact lists you have for us accordingly.
Remember also that you can sign up for national FC grants and regulations emails, giving upcoming grant windows, on Gov.uk.
100 years of forestry 1919 – 2019
We thought you might enjoy the attached photo of a vintage Forestry Commission van, to celebrate the start of our centenary year. If you have any early photos of forestry work in the South West, or any rare artefacts at the back of a barn, do let us know and we’d love to record and share them with others this year. Alternatively, share pictures or stories yourself on Twitter using #forests100. If you want to find out more about what the Forestry Commission will be doing to celebrate the centenary nationally, please look at our website: https://www.forestryengland.uk/100.Fe