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Government response
government response summary
Landowners must comply with legislation to protect wildlife, including red squirrel. The granting of felling licenses do not change this; they simply authorise the felling of growing trees.
government response details
Forestry is a devolved matter; in England the control of tree felling is the responsibility of the Forestry Commissioners under their powers in Part II of the Forestry Act 1967 (as amended). In most circumstances a landowner will require a felling licence from the Forestry Commission before they can legally fell their trees. When considering a felling licence application, the Commission will judge the proposals against the UK Forestry Standard, the government’s approach to sustainable forestry. This standard encompasses the impacts on biodiversity and recognises the importance of priority habitats and species, including red squirrels. Applicants for a felling licence are therefore required to evidence how they propose to manage the impact of felling on wildlife. The Forestry Commission checks all applications against a large number of records, including Red Squirrel Reserves. This allows the Forestry Commission to highlight any potential issues and advise the applicant how to avoid the disturbance or damage of protected species.The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or disturb a red squirrel or intentionally or recklessly damage any place a red squirrel uses for shelter or protection and a felling licence does not remove this responsibility. There is a defence if a person can show that the act was the incidental result of a lawful operation and could not reasonably have been avoided, but this would require them to demonstrate that they had followed good practice and taken all reasonable steps to avoid the disturbance or damage. The need to do this is brought to an applicant’s attention in a covering letter when they are issued with a felling licence.Where other species are affected that are European Protected Species, the defence of an incidental result of a lawful operation does not apply and the landowner must carry out an assessment of the possible impact on protected species and, if necessary, apply for a licence from Natural England. Where proposed tree felling sites carry statutory designations to protect important features, such as biodiversity, the Forestry Commission is required to consult other relevant authorities and seek their agreement as to the appropriateness of any tree felling. This consultation may result in additional advisory notes being applied to a felling licence. Any additional permissions or consents that may be required may also be generated at that time, for example, SSSI consent from Natural England.We will be consulting on an English Tree Strategy later this year. This may provide an opportunity to consider the case for any further strengthening of the protection of wildlife during forestry operations, including timber harvesting, which is an important element of the sustainable woodland management cycle.Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
government response created at
2019-01-29T13:12:16.858000+00:00
government response updated at
2019-01-29T13:12:16.858000+00:00
government response has e-petition
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e-petition has government response
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