SCOTTISH FORESTRY is reminding landowners, householders and developers that new felling permissions have come into force and are needed in advance of felling trees.

The new powers mean that any business or individual who fells trees without a valid felling permission could be fined up to £5000 per tree and enforced to replant the area.

The reminder comes on the back of a recent prosecution of a developer who failed to get the proper permissions in place and a rising number of investigations into illegal felling in the central belt.

Scottish Forestry’s Conservator for Central Scotland, Keith Wishart said: “We are reminding everyone that you must have permission to fell trees, unless a legal exemption applies. It is an offence without the correct permissions in place.

“The laws on the felling of trees have recently been revised with greater fines – up to £5000 per tree in some cases. In order to avoid a court case, a hefty fine and a criminal record, it is vital to speak to your local Scottish Forestry office first for advice.

“Scottish Forestry is keen to work with all landowners, developers and householders to advise them of any permissions needed. Our advice is totally free so please get in touch.”

This past year, the Central Scotland team of Scottish Forestry has seen a doubling of cases of being investigated, up to 30 from the annual average of 15.

Most of the cases have been connected to development where heavy machinery has been used to clear trees to build property. Scottish Forestry has powers to require areas felled without permission to be replanted and maintained as woodlands. Where this happens it can make obtaining planning permission much more difficult – if not impossible.

Mr Wishart added: “We take all reports of alleged illegal fellings very seriously and our woodland officers will take action to investigate. We’d like to thank many members of the public who alert us to these cases, yet if we can prevent it happening in the first place, then so much the better.

“If you want to obtain planning permission then you should contact the local planning authority to discuss the project before undertaking any tree felling. It is illegal to fell any timber without permissions in place if it is over five metres cubic square in volume, unless the woodland is between 0.1ha and 0.5ha in size and where at least 50% of the woodland consists of native species."

For more information on felling permissions and details of exemptions go to