Guide to cross compliance in England: 2016

GAEC 7c: Trees

You may need to get a licence from the Forestry Commission if you want to cut down (fell) a tree. You must check if a tree has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and meet any conditions of the TPO. You must also follow the rules about when you can trim or cut trees.

For cross compliance rules a tree must have a diameter of more than 8 centimetres or, in the case of coppice or underwood, have a diameter of more than 15 centimetres. The diameter should be measured over the bark and 1.3 metres above the ground.

What you must do

You must:

  • follow the Forestry Commission’s rules by applying for a licence to cut down (fell) a tree, where a licence is required
  • contact your local planning authority if the tree has a preservation order or is in a conservation area
  • comply with licence conditions, restocking notices, enforcement notices or directions served on you.

You must not:

  • cut down a tree without a felling licence if a licence is required
  • cut down, wilfully damage or destroy, uproot, top or lop any tree protected by a TPO without written consent from your local planning authority
  • cut down, wilfully damage or destroy, uproot, top or lop any tree located in a conservation area without giving 42 days written notice to your local planning authority
  • cut or trim a tree on your farm between 1 March and 31 August (inclusive) each year, except where:
    • the tree overhangs a highway, or any other road or footpath, endangering or obstructing vehicles, pedestrians or horse-riders
    • the tree obstructs or interferes with the view of drivers of vehicles or the light from a public lamp
    • the tree is dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted, and is a risk to human safety
    • the tree is either a fruit or nut tree in an orchard or it forms part of a windbreak in an orchard, vineyard, hop yard or hop garden
    • it is to carry out tree coppicing during the period 1 March to 30 April (inclusive)
    • RPA has given written permission to do so to enhance the environment, improve public or agricultural access, or for reasons relating to livestock or crop production
    • you have received written permission from RPA to cut or trim during the month of to sow oil seed rape or temporary grassland during the same month of August.

More information

You should read the Forestry Commission’s rules about ‘Felling licences’. Applications for felling licences can be made online.

Local planning guidance on TPOis available online.


Forestry Commission: 0300 067 4070
Rural Payments Agency: 03000 200 301