The Environment Act 2021 (Commencement No. 5 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2022

Jurisdiction: United Kingdom

Commencement: 1st January 2023


  • Environment Act 2021
  • Forestry Act 1967
  • The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006

Mini Summary

The Environment Act 2021 aims to improve air and water quality, tackle waste, improve biodiversity and make other environmental improvements. We’ve written more about this in a previous update, which can be viewed here.

The Forestry Act 1967 has been repealed and replaced in Scotland by the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018, the 2018 Act makes certain transitional provisions which keep the 1967 Act in force in specified circumstances relating to applications made under the Act.

This Act sets out the general duties of the Forestry Commission (FC), its organisational structure and commissioner and staff roles. It allows the FC to manage and use any land granted to it the by the Minister, manage and supervise any woods or forests and buy and sell timber.

The main impact of the Act relates to the control over the felling of trees, Felling Licences and how they interact with Tree Preservation Orders.

A Felling Licence from the FC is required to fell growing trees, except in cases where:

  • felling trees with diameters less than 80mm (when measured at 1.3m from ground level);
  • felling trees for thinning purposes with diameters less than 100mm (when measured at 1.3m from ground level);
  • felling coppiced trees (for regrowth) with diameters less than 150mm (when measured at 1.3m from ground level);
  • lopping and topping (tree surgery, pollarding, pruning);
  • felling fruit trees;
  • felling trees as part of a development authorised with planning permission;
  • felling necessary to prevent dangers or nuisance; and
  • felling carried out by, or at the request of, an electricity operator.

A person can fell up to five cubic metres on their own property in any calendar quarter without a Felling Licence as long as no more than two cubic metres are sold.

In cases where a Felling Licence is requested in order to fell trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or in a conservation area the FC will consult with the local planning authority that issued the TPO before deciding whether or not to issue a Felling Licence which would overrule the TPO.

If the FC issues a Felling Licence for trees covered by a TPO or in a conservation area and the applicant has not declared the TPO or conservation area, then the Felling Licence does not cover the felling of those trees and felling them may be a criminal offence.

The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 implements key aspects of the Government’s Rural Strategy published in July 2004 and also addresses a wider range of issues relating broadly to the natural environment. The Act requires every local authority to consider the purpose of conserving biodiversity. The Secretary of State for England and National Assembly for Wales, are required to publish a list of the living organisms and types of habitat which are of principle importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity.


Various duties apply.


The following provisions of the 2021 Act  come into force on 1st January 2023.

  • Section 102 (General duty to conserve and enhance biodiversity).
  • Section 103 (Biodiversity reports).
  • Section 114 (Controlling the felling of trees in England).
  • Schedule 16 (Controlling the felling of trees in England).

These provisions require a public authority* to set out biodiversity objectives and publish biodiversity reports.

*Public authority means an authority whose functions are of a public nature.

Lastly, duties are imposed on the Forestry Commission and Natural Resources Wales regarding the enforcement of tree felling and restocking notices.

Link to full government text


The Legislation Update Service is the best way to stay up to date automatically with legislation in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Sign up for your free trial to get instant access.



These summaries (The Compliance People Materials) are provided free of charge as an example of the Legislation Update Service’s content. They are not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific situation. The Compliance People Materials are general and educational in nature and may not apply to the specific facts and circumstances of individual cases. The Compliance People does not accept any responsibility for action taken by you or any User as a result of any The Compliance People Materials provided by us. You should take specific legal advice when dealing with specific situations.