Woodland Grants and Permissions

Grants and Licences

Wood­lands in the UK are pro­tected by the Forestry Act 1986 which requires any­one wish­ing to fell trees to have a licence from the Forestry Com­mis­sion. A felling licence is nor­mally issued with con­di­tions which will require you to replant any trees felled or to ensure that the wood­land is able to regen­er­ate itself. It is a very sim­ple and effec­tive mech­a­nism to ensure that all wood­lands stay as woodlands.

You don’t need one for cut­ting small quan­ti­ties of wood, and you are allowed to fell up to 5 cubic metres (5 tonnes) in any 3 month period. Over a year you can fell up to 20 cubic metres for your own use. This is the same as a large lorry load, so for rou­tine main­te­nance or for cut­ting a bit of fire­wood you will not have to worry. How­ever the vol­ume allowed goes down to just 2 cubic meters per quar­ter if you are sell­ing it.

When you apply for the licence you need to say how many trees you want to fell and their vol­ume. You will need to mark them with paint or a blaze so that the Forestry Com­mis­sion Offi­cer can see them. Felling Licences can now be down­loaded from the Forestry Com­mis­sion web­site and you will need a map to go with it. Things may be more com­pli­cated if your wood is within a National Park as the Park Author­ity will also want to know what your inten­tions are. A few woods also have tree preser­va­tion orders on them; this is a des­ig­na­tion con­trolled by the local plan­ning author­ity, and any man­age­ment work will require their prior approval. Most coun­cils will employ a tree or forestry spe­cial­ist who will be able to help you with the process. By the way the legal def­i­n­i­tion of a “tree” is any tree or shrub which has a diam­e­ter of more than 8cm when mea­sured at a point 1.4 metres from the ground. Small than 8cm and you can cut as many as you like, but beware 7cm is really not very big.

If you are not sure what to do, phone the local Forestry Com­mis­sion Office and ask to speak to the Pri­vate Wood­lands Offi­cer for your area. She/he will be able to come out to your wood to give advice. (Forestry Com­mis­sion Exeter 01626 890666)

If you are plan­ning reg­u­lar wood­land man­age­ment over sev­eral years you will find it much sim­pler to apply to the Forestry Com­mis­sion for a “Wood­land Grant Scheme” which last for 5 years and may even pay you some grant aid. The Eng­lish Wood­land Grant Scheme pro­vides finan­cial sup­port for regen­er­a­tion, replant­ing, con­ser­va­tion work and the pro­vi­sion of pub­lic access. Fol­low the links on www.forestry.gov.uk and you can down­load the forms. Warn­ing! They are com­pli­cated but pro­vid­ing you are not in a rush they are rea­son­ably easy to fol­low. The Wood­land Grant Scheme now offers grants under a vari­ety of headings:

  • Wood­land Plan­ning Grant and Wood­land Assess­ment Grant
  • Wood­land Man­age­ment Grant
  • Wood­land Improve­ment Grant
  • Wood­fuel Wood­land Improve­ment Grant
  • Wood­land Regen­er­a­tion Grant
  • Wood­land Plant­ing Grant

Pri­or­i­ties and bud­gets change from year to year, and are dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent regions, so check on the Commission’s web-site for up to date infor­ma­tion, or con­tact your local Wood­land Offi­cer. Alter­na­tively we act as agents for landown­ers, but in the south west only.

The Welsh Assem­bly Gov­ern­ment have pro­duced their own pack­age of grant aid mea­sures called ‘Bet­ter Woods for Wales’ which pro­vides grants for a wide range of man­age­ment options. These are more gen­er­ous than their Eng­lish equiv­a­lent but they do gen­er­ate quite a lot of paper­work. Again fol­low the links from www.forestry.gov.uk . Free advice is avail­able in Wales, which has a net­work of “Coed Cymru” advis­ers who spe­cialise in help­ing farm­ers and small wood­land own­ers. Visit www.coedcymru.org.uk

Before you can apply for Forestry Com­mis­sion grants you will need to reg­is­ter your wood­land with the Rural Pay­ments Agency. Remem­ber: Only apply for a grant if the grant con­di­tions meet your own objec­tives. Never apply for grants sim­ply because the money is there, you will sim­ply end up doing the agen­cies job for them.

There are lots of laws to pro­tect wildlife and land­scapes in the UK and many reg­u­la­tions on rights of way. While it is a good idea to be well informed on coun­try­side law, most of the reg­u­la­tions will actu­ally help you to look after your wood rather than cause you any hin­drance. If you are inter­ested in more infor­ma­tion, “Coun­try­side Law” by Jones, Palmer and Syden­ham is an excel­lent overview for the gen­eral reader. Most landown­ers join up to the CLA, NFU, FTA or Small Woods Asso­ci­a­tion for legal updates and support.

Coun­try Land and Busi­ness Asso­ci­a­tion www.cla.org.uk

National Farm­ers Union www.nfu.org.uk

The Con­fed­er­a­tion of For­est Indus­tries (Con­for) sup­port all UK tim­ber pro­duc­ers. Mem­bers receive an excel­lent range of sup­port ser­vices includ­ing mar­ket and legal updates. www.confor.org.uk

Small Woods Asso­ci­a­tion www.smallwoods.org.uk

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