Guidance

Environmental Impact Assessments for woodland: overview

Find out if you need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before you start woodland projects.

The Forestry Commission is responsible for administering the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999, as amended.

These regulations affect 4 forestry projects. These are:

  • afforestation: creating new woodland, including by use of direct seeding or natural regeneration processes, planting of Christmas trees or planting of short rotation coppice
  • deforestation: felling trees to use the land for a different purpose
  • forest roads: the formation, alteration or maintenance of private ways on land used (or to be used) for forestry purposes, including roads within a forest or leading to one
  • forestry quarries: quarrying to obtain materials required for forest roadworks on land that is used or will be used for forestry purposes, or on land held or occupied with that land

Forestry projects and thresholds

The regulations give each of these projects a range of area thresholds depending on sensitivity to environmental impact. Lower thresholds are given for projects that lie within sensitive areas, such as a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Use the threshold information to work out if you’re exempt from needing a Forestry Commission EIA decision all together or if you need:

  • to give notification (basic or full)
  • to get an opinion

The Forestry Commission will respond with a decision and you may need to apply for consent to carry out your work. Where you need a decision from the Forestry Commission, you must not carry out any work until you have received that decision.

Find out more about giving notification, requesting our opinion and applying for consent.

Each of the 4 projects have thresholds tables that the Forestry Commission uses to understand the scale of your work. You must check the thresholds table to work out if you need an EIA.

EIA enquiries

To help with our decision, we need you to complete an EIA enquiry form, along with a plan or map of the project area and any other relevant information that you’ve gathered about the site and from stakeholders.

The enquiry form to use will depend on whether the forestry project that you’re proposing involves creating new woodland, felling trees for deforestation, or working on roads and/or quarries - see the guidance listed above.

Notification

If your forestry project is afforestation (woodland creation), small scale in nature and/or located within a low risk area, you may simply be able to notify us of your proposal using the EIA enquiry form to get our decision.

Grant applications for woodland creation

If you’re applying for a Forestry Commission grant for woodland creation then you may not be required to submit an EIA Enquiry Form, as the information provided in your grant application may meet the Forestry Commission’s requirements to assess environmental impact.

If our opinion is that the proposed project is a relevant project under the regulations, and that it will have a significant impact on the environment, then you must get our consent for the work before you start. Your application will need to include an Environmental Statement. You can find guidance on scoping and preparing an Environmental Statement below, under ‘Further information’.

In some cases, we may ask for more information before we can make this decision. The Forestry Commission will write to you detailing which information is required, and will wait for you to provide that information before proceeding with our decision.

Penalties and Enforcement Notices

If the Forestry Commission discovers that you’re carrying out work subject to EIA regulations without consent, or that you’ve breached the terms of a previously granted consent, we may serve an Enforcement Notice.

Who can be served an Enforcement Notice

An Enforcement Notice can be served on:

  • the person carrying out the work, possibly the contractor
  • the land owner
  • any other people who have sufficient interest in the property (allowing them to carry out the work without the need to get permission from anyone else)

Further information

You can find out more about the process with the:

If you have any questions, you can contact your nearest Forestry Commission area office.

Published 9 July 2018