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Tree and hedges covered by planning conditions or covenants
Property covenants or conditions in earlier planning permissions may restrict the work you can do on a particular tree or hedge.
For covenants, check the deeds for the property. Ask a solicitor if you need advice.
To check planning conditions, search planning applications.
To cut a tree down to ground level, you may need a felling licence even if the tree does not have a TPO . Felling licences are only needed for trees outside private gardens, orchards, churchyards and public open spaces.
Tree felling licences
Rules for work on ancient woodland and veteran trees
Ancient woodland is any area that has been wooded continuously since 1600 or earlier. An area of ancient woodland may contain open space and younger trees as well as old trees. Wood pastures and historic park land can also count as ancient woodland even though the tree density is lower.
Ancient and veteran trees can be individual trees or groups of trees.
Developments that will harm or destroy ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees
Planning permission for development will be refused if the development will result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland, ancient trees or veteran trees unless both the following apply:
- there are wholly exceptional reasons
- there is a suitable compensation strategy in place
To find out more about planning permission for ancient and veteran trees, see GOV.UK.
For maps showing where woodland has been identified as ancient, use the GOV.UK Magic Map. Choose 'habitats and species' from the table of contents, then choose 'woodland' then 'ancient woodland'. Scroll in on the map to check the relevant area. Note that not all ancient woodland has yet been identified - you cannot be sure that woodland is not ancient simply because it is not on the map.
permission to work on hedgerows that are not part of a garden (countryside hedgerows)
You may need to get permission if you want to remove a hedge that is not part of a garden.
This is because the law protects countryside hedgerows that meet particular criteria for length, location, and 'importance'. To see if a hedgerow is likely to count as protected, see GOV.UK - hedgerow regulations.
How to apply to remove a countryside hedgerow
To apply to remove a countryside hedgerow, use the Planning Portal.
After you apply to remove a hedgerow
After we get your notice from the Planning Portal, we will register it and send you confirmation we have registered the notification. We will assess whether the hedgerow should be considered important under the hedgerow regulations and consult the relevant parish council.
There is no legal requirement for us to consult directly with neighbours or other members of the public, but we include all hedgerow removal notifications in our planning applications list.
We will then send you either:
- a hedgerow retention notice - if the hedge is protected and you cannot remove it (you can appeal against our decision if you disagree with the decision)
- a written notice giving permission to remove it in the way you have proposed
We normally give decisions within 6 weeks, but the parish council may ask for longer to consider the proposals. We will contact you if this happens.
If you do not hear from us, you can do the work after 6 weeks have passed from the registration date.
Rules to protect wildlife in trees and hedges
You should avoid working on trees and hedges during the nesting season (between 1 March and 31 August). It is a criminal offence to knowingly damage or destroy an active nest or the eggs or birds.
You must comply with all laws protecting wildlife and may need a wildlife licence if your work affects protected species such as bats or dormice.
To find out if the area has been identified as an important wildlife habitat, use the GOV.UK Magic Map and tick 'Habitats and species' in the table of contents.
We recommend you use qualified tree specialists for work on trees and hedges. This way you can be sure the work will be done safely and will not damage the tree or hedge. A good place to look is the Arboricultural Association's directory of accredited members. All contractors should follow the British Standards for Pruning and Treework (BS3998).