If you sadly come to the conclusion that a tree or trees in your property need to go, you need to check if legally you’re able to have it felled.
Since the 1st of April 2019, the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 and its associated regulations have come into force. This means that anyone wanting to fell trees in Scotland needs a Felling Permission issued by Scottish Forestry, unless one of the exemptions listed below applies, or another form of felling approval has previously been issued by it.
Felling a tree without a valid Felling Permission where exemptions, directions, or notices don’t apply, is a criminal offence which can result in a fine and a criminal record for anyone involved!
Everyone involved in the tree felling is responsible for ensuring that permission is in place before any work is carried out.
The following are places or types of felling for which you don’t need to apply for felling permission:
- Up to five cubic metres of timber within any set calendar quarter – defined as 1 January to 31 March; 1 April to 30 June; 1 July to 30 September; 1 October to 31 December.
This doesn’t apply in native broadleaved woodland between 0.1 and 0.5 hectares and Caledonian Pinewood sites.
Native woodlands are defined as woodlands where the canopy is of 50% or more of: Common alder; Crab apple; Ash; Aspen; Downy birch; Silver birch; Bird cherry; Wild cherry; Wych elm; Pedunculate oak; Sessile oak; Rowan; Goat willow; Blackthorn; Elder; Common hawthorn; Hazel; Holly; Spindle; Yew; Juniper; Bay willow; Eared willow; Grey willow (sallow); Tea-leaved willow; Dark-leaved willow or Purple willow.Trees within Caledonian Pinewoods are shown on the Caledonian Pinewood Inventory.
- Any trees with a diameter at 1.3 metres from the ground of 10 centimetres or less. Where the tree is on a slope, the measurement should be taken on the higher side.
- Trees in orchards, gardens, churchyards, burial grounds and public open spaces.
- A tree where felling is necessary for the prevention of immediate danger to people or property.
- A dead tree. The tree must be completely dead, not just starting to die or blown over, showing no signs of growth or displaying any foliage.
- Elm trees affected by Dutch Elm Disease and where most of the crown is dead.
- Trees where felling is immediately needed for carrying out development authorised by planning permission. It doesn’t apply to Outline consent, pre-planning or planning in principle.
- A tree on land occupied by a statutory undertaker, or at its request, which is obstructing construction or interfering with the maintenance of its work. “Statutory undertaker” means someone authorised to carry on any railway, light railway, tramway, road transport, water transport, canal, inland navigation, dock, harbour, power, lighthouse undertaking or any undertaking for the supply of hydraulic power or of water, or a holder of a licence under section 7A of the Gas Act 1986.
- Where it’s required by order of a court or tribunal or by any enactment.
- Trees on land subject to a Dedication Agreement in positive covenant. This is land covered by a Dedication Agreement with an approved plan of operations and the agreement is registered in the Land Register or General Register of Sasines and binding the owner of the land or the land is owned by the person who entered into the agreement.
- Any tree that obstructs the approach or departure of aircraft at an aerodrome. Aerodromes are defined as any area of land or water designed, equipped, set apart or commonly used for the landing and departure of aircraft.
- A tree which interferes with the work of Scottish Water.
- At the request of a local authority under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.
- At the request of an electricity operator where the tree is close to an existing or future electric line or electrical plant and the presence of the tree is either obstructing or interfering with the installation, maintenance or working of the line or plant or an unacceptable source of danger to people.
- A tree covered by a Tree Preservation Order where consent to fell it has been granted by the local authority. Where permission to fell trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order was given by a local authority before the 1st of April 2019 but felling wasn’t carried out by then, the original approval still applies.
If you’re unsure if your tree is covered by the exemptions or not, get in touch with our team.
Check for local restrictions
If your tree or trees are exempt from a felling permission application, you next need to use Land Information Search to see if the area involved has constraints, such as Special Protection Areas; such as for protected species like badgers and squirrels.
You also need to check your proposed your felling operations don’t contravene any laws or industry good practice requirements.
Scottish Forestry has two useful guides you can read:
If you have any other queries, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Get in touch
LJX is one of Scotland’s leading independent owner-managed providers of experienced arboricultural services to domestic and commercial clients across Glasgow and Edinburgh. For more information get in touch today on 01505 873 347.