Introducing 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.
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.
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.
Why should I use the Felling Licence Online system?
- You can register for the system and reset your password online independently.
- Once you have registered for the system you will be able to log in whenever is convenient for you to submit a felling licence application or track progress of those you have already submitted.
- Spatial data will be saved so it is available for you to use for future applications too. You only have to digitise once.
- If you have submitted a paper licence since 14th May 2018, your spatial data may already exist in the system and we will transfer it to your user account, saving you time.
- The system allows you to import shapefiles from most common GIS platforms, so if you have drawn your compartments already you should not have to digitise again.
- Your information will be automatically backed up, so if your application needs reworking, you won’t have to start again from scratch. No more applications misplaced in the post.
- You can check for any major constraints on the land within your application, such as SSSI’s, before it is submitted by running a constraints check. This will help you comply with UK Forestry Standard and other regulations affecting the work you want to do.
- Woodland Officers will receive your application more quickly and will be able to get in touch directly if they have any questions.
- Less paper leads to better environmental practices.
- You can access your application and approved licences wherever you are via mobile, tablet or laptop.
- Your feedback will help us to shape future developments of the online system.
Is there any support available?
We have produced a user guide for Felling Licence Online that will be available on GOV.UK once the system is launched. Please have a look at this and if you still need more support then please contact us using our support mailbox:
firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a support session either over the phone or in a local office.
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.