I would like to cut down some trees on my lands but I am concerned that I will fall foul of the law if I do so. Please explain my rights in relation to cutting trees on my property.
Under the Forestry Act, 2014, it is illegal to uproot any tree over ten years old or to cut down any tree of any age (including trees which form part of a hedgerow ), unless a notice of intention to fell or uproot trees has been lodged at the Garda Station nearest to the trees at least 21 days before felling commences.
This notice of intention must be given in writing on a form known as a Felling Notice which may be obtained from any Garda Station. Upon receipt of a completed Felling Notice, an Order prohibiting the felling of the trees is issued. This protects the trees in question while consideration is given to the issuing of a Felling Licence. The Act provides for two types of Felling Licence namely a General Felling Licence and a Limited Felling Licence.
The requirement for a Felling Licence for the uprooting or cutting down of trees does NOT apply in a number of circumstances including:
· A tree in an urban area
· A tree uprooted in a nursery for the purpose of transplantation.
· A tree of the willow or poplar species planted and maintained solely for fuel under a short rotation coppice.
· The tree is standing within 30 metres of any building other than a wall or temporary structure;
· A tree less than five 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 ).
· Trees outside a forest – within 10 metres 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.
· Trees outside a forest – the removal of which is specified in a grant of planning permission.
· Trees outside a forest – of the hawthorn or blackthorn species.
· Trees outside a forest – in a hedgerow and felled for the purposes of its trimming, provided that the tree does not exceed 20 centimetres in diameter when measured 1.3 metres from the ground.
Penalties for illegal felling can be severe, ranging from fines of up to a maximum of €200 per tree or up to six months imprisonment or both on conviction in the District Court. Conviction in the Circuit Court will result in heavier penalties.
This column is prepared by Dolores Gacquin, solicitor. Byrne Carolan Cunningham has offices in Galway, Athlone, Moate, and Lanesboro. A person should always contact their solicitor to obtain legal advice specific to their own situation. This above column contains general advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
Call Byrne Carolan Cunningham on (090 ) 6478433.