Felling Licences

The felling of trees in Great Britain is controlled by the Forestry Commission (Forestry Act 1967). A licence is normally required to fell growing trees but in any calendar quarter you may fell up to 5 cubic metres on your property without a licence as long as no more than 2 cubic metres are sold.


1) Lopping and topping (which usually includes tree surgery, pruning and pollarding).

2) Felling included in a Dedication Plan.

3) Felling fruit trees, or trees growing in a garden, orchard, churchyard or designated public open space.

4) Felling trees which, when measured at a height of 1:3 metres from the ground

  • Have a diameter of 8 centimetres or less
  • If thinning; have a diameter of 10 centimetres or less
  • If coppice or underwood have a diameter of 15 centimetres or less.

5) Felling trees immediately required for the purpose of carrying out development authorised by planning permission (granted under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990) or for work carried out by certain providers of gas, electricity and water services and which is essential for the provision of those services.

6) Felling necessary for the prevention of a danger or the prevention or abatement of a nuisance (e.g. which may involve danger to a third party). The danger must be real rather than perceived).

Contact your local Forestry Commission office if you are not certain whether these exemptions apply.

Additional requirements

Additional requirements apply if the trees:

  • Are situated in a Site of Special Scientific Interest or Conservation Area
  • May affect a Scheduled Ancient Monument
  • Are subject to a Tree Preservation Order

Do not start felling until you have a licence. Illegal felling is an offence.