Forestry Activity Consents Summary

MKO are increasingly providing advice to forest companies, both private and semi-state, as well as advising the Forest Service on a number of projects. With this in mind, the tables below provide a summary of the requirements for planning permission, Environmental Impact Assessment and Forest Service Licensing for various forestry activities. It also includes some of the exemptions in place and was developed from a review of forestry and planning legislation and is intended as a general guide only. If you would like to discuss your particular forestry activity or query in more detail, please contact us to discuss further.

Environmental Impact Assessment – Guidelines for Forestry Activities

Exemptions under Planning and Development Regulations (i.e. do not require planning permission)

Planning permission for some forestry activities is required, quite often triggered by the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment and / or Natura Impact Assessment as set out in the table above. For reference, the list below provides the general exemptions that apply to forestry activities as set out in planning legislation.

Initial afforestation shall be exempted development.

  • Development consisting of the thinning, felling or replanting of trees, forests or woodlands, or works ancillary to that development, but not including the replacement of broadleaf high forest by conifer species, shall be exempted development.
  • Development (other than where the development consists of provision of access to a public road) consisting of the construction, maintenance or improvement of a road (other than a public road), or works ancillary to such road development, where the road serves forests and woodlands, shall be exempted development.


Tree Felling Licence Exemptions
  • A tree in an urban area.
  • A tree within 30m of a building (other than a wall or temporary structure), but excluding any building built after the trees were planted.
  • A tree, that in the opinion of the Minister, is required to be removed:
    • To control or prevent the spread of fire or a pest or disease;
    • To protect the integrity of the forest gene pool;
    • For forest survey purposes; or
    • To mitigate a threat to a habitat or other important environmental resource.
  • That is in the opinion of the Minister, planted and managed solely for its foliage or for decorative purposes, such as Christmas trees
  • Removed by a public authority in the performance of its statutory functions.
  • That is, in the opinion of the planning authority, dangerous on account of its age, condition or location.
  • That is, in the opinion of the emergency services, required to be removed, including in the aftermath of an accident.
  • Less than 5 years of age that came about through natural regeneration and removed from a field as part of the normal maintenance of agricultural land (but not where the tree is standing in a hedgerow).
  • Uprooted in a nursery for the purpose of transplantation.
  • Of the willow or poplar species planted and maintained solely for fuel under a short rotation coppice.
  • Removed by or with the permission of the Minister or Teagasc, as part of a demonstration or for scientific purposes.
  • On land held or managed by the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for the purposes of the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 and felled, uprooted or removed on his or her behalf.
  • Outside a forest:
    • Within 10m of a public road and which, in the opinion of the owner (being an opinion formed on reasonable grounds), is dangerous to persons using the public road on account of its age or condition.
    • The removal of which is specified in a grant of planning permission.
    • On an agricultural holding and removed by the owner for use on that holding provided, it does not form part of a decorative avenue or ring of trees, its volume does not exceed 3 cubic metres, and the removal of it, by the owner for the foregoing purpose, when taken together with the removal of other such trees by the owner for that purpose, would not result in the total volume of trees, on that holding and removed by the owner for that purpose, exceeding 15 cubic metres in any period of 12 months, of the hawthorn or blackthorn species or in a hedgerow and felled for the purposes of its trimming, provided that the tree does not exceed 20cm in diameter when measured 1.3m from the ground.
  • In a burial ground maintained by a burial board or joint burial board under the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Acts 1878 to 2001 or the Local Government Acts 1925 to 2012. Of the apple, pear, plum or damson species.

Note that, while some trees are exempted from the need to obtain a felling licence, the Forest Service must still be notified that felling is to take place, and it will decide if the trees in question are exempted.

On receipt of an application for a felling licence, the Forest Service will undertake screening to assess whether or not the project is has the potential to have a significant effect on a SAC or SPA. If a significant effect is likely or where uncertainty exists, the Forest Service will request a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) from the applicant to allow them undertake an Appropriate Assessment (AA).

If you require any further details or would like to discuss anything relating to your forestry project or activities, please contact MKO on 091 735611.

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