Do I Need Permission to Fell a Tree?

Let us start by making it clear that the answer to the question “Do I need permission to fell a tree in Scotland?”will vary depending on a number of factors that may be unique in each case. With this in mind, if you want to know whether permission is required to fell a specific tree on your property, it is always best to consult a local tree surgeon. If you happen to be in North East Scotland, you are, of course, welcome to get in touch with us for professional assistance with such matters. If you live in another part of the country or you would like to get a general idea of the law as it applies to tree felling in Scotland, we invite you to continue reading below.


When Permission is Required to Fell a Tree

As intimated in the introduction, sometimes permission is needed and sometimes it is not. There are three very specific cases in which permission is always required before a tree can be felled:


  • Trees Protected by a Tree Protection Order (TPO) – If a tree is protected by a TPO, it is an offence to fell or prune it without applying for permission first. If you wish to fell a tree that is protected by a TPO to make way for a new construction project, there is no need to ask for the TPO to be removed. Simply include the relevant details in your planning application. Planning applications approved by the local authority always override existing TPOs. If you are not planning a development project, you can apply for a variance to the order instead. In either case, the application should be made to your local planning authority (LPA).
  • Trees in a Conservation Area – Although it is not necessary to apply for permission to fell trees located in a conservation area, it is necessary to give the LPA at least six weeks advance notice of your intentions. This is to allow the authority time to consider whether they wish to create new TPOs to protect the trees in question. If they choose not to take this step, you are free to continue with your felling operations as notified in advance.
  • Trees Exceeding 5 m3 in Volume – Any single tree, or group of trees, that exceeds 5 cubic metres in volume cannot be felled until a felling licence has been obtained. This limit applies to living trees only; you do not have to obtain a licence to fell in excess of 5 m3 of dead trees. It is also important to note that this is a quarterly limit: you are permitted to fell up to 5 m3 of living trees in any calendar quarter. In other words, if you wish to fell 20 m3 of trees without applying for a licence, simply spread your felling operations evenly over one calendar year.


If you engage the services of experienced tree surgeons such as ourselves, you will receive full administrative support with any and all applications that may need to be made.

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