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Overview of the appeals process for felling in Wales as set out by the Forestry Act 1967.

First published:
28 March 2024
Last updated:


The Forestry Act 1967 provides the legal framework for felling trees in England and Wales. It also sets out the requirement for felling licences. Owners of woodlands must get a licence before felling growing trees, subject to limited exemptions.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is responsible for regulating tree felling in Wales. This is through their duties and powers set out in the Forestry Act 1967. But there may be times when you wish to appeal NRW’s decision.  

If you request an appeal, you will have the opportunity to present your case to a Committee of Reference (CoR). This is a panel of 3 or 4 independent forestry experts, selected from a statutory panel of experts which were appointed by the Minister of Climate Change for this purpose. The CoR will hear your evidence and that of NRW relating to your case. They will then submit a report of recommendations to the Minister. The Minister will make the final decision on the matter. 

The right to appeal and related grounds for appeal

Before you can appeal, you must:

  • have the right to appeal a particular decision, and 
  • use the relevant grounds (reasons) for appeal

You can make an appeal to the Welsh Ministers under the following sections of the Forestry Act 1967:

  • section 16: Review of refusal or conditions of a felling licence
  • section 17B: Appeal against a restocking notice 
  • section 20: Review of felling directions
  • section 21: Courses open to a person adversely affected by felling directions
  • section 25: Appeal against a notice under section 24 (Notice to require compliance with conditions or directions)
  • section 26A: Appeals against notices given under sections: 
    • 24C(3) (variation/suspension, revocation of a licence where breach of condition), and 
    • 24D(2) (requiring subsequent owner or interest holder to take steps
  • section 26B: Appeals against notices given under section 24E(2) (no breach of conditions)

You can find a summary of these at Forestry Act 1967: Rights and grounds for appeal. These are also set out in detail in the Forestry Act 1967 (on

If you do not have a right to appeal or do not use the relevant grounds for appeal, we will not be able to accept your appeal for consideration.

Local authorities may also object where a notice served on you affects trees or woodland covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Where this is the case, NRW will discuss this with you.

Before deciding to appeal

Before you start the formal appeal process, we encourage you to discuss your case with the NRW Regulatory Woodland Officer. This may resolve your issue and should be done as soon as possible. You only have 3 months to appeal, starting from the day after you receive the notice or decision.

The need to comply with a notice will be put on hold until appeal proceedings are complete. The exception is where “emergency criteria” apply. This is when NRW considers the notice is necessary to respond to an imminent and serious risk of harm to:

  • natural beauty
  • flora
  • fauna
  • geological features
  • physiographical features
  • natural habitats 

In this circumstance, the notice would take effect from the date the notice is given. You would need to comply with the notice from the date it takes effect. But you still have the right to appeal the notice if you wish to do so.

How to make an appeal

You must appeal within 3 months from the day after you receive the notice or decision. This is known as the prescribed period and is set out in the regulations below. We will not consider any appeals received late. The exception is where a notice suspending a felling licence should have been brought to an end before the suspension period ended. An example would be where conditions have been complied with, removing the reasons for the suspension, but the suspension period is longer than the 3 month appeal window. In this case, you can submit an appeal at any point during the period of suspension.

It is not compulsory to engage an expert to advise you when submitting an appeal. But you may wish to consider doing so. 

There are different forms for each reason for appeal. When NRW:

  • send you a decision, or 
  • serve you with a notice

they will include the relevant appeal form and instructions on how to appeal. 

You can also find details of appeal forms and prescribed periods in the following regulations:

The Forestry (Felling of trees) Regulations 1979 (on which were amended by:

The Forestry (Felling of Trees) (Amendment) Regulations 1987 (on 

The Forestry (Felling of Trees) (England and Wales)(Amendment) Regulations 2002 (on

The Forestry (Felling of Trees) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2023 (on (This regulation relates specifically to notices under the new powers in the Forestry Act 1967 on environmental conditions and risk of harm to the environment).  

To submit your appeal, you need to provide the following information:

  • relevant appeal form completed using the relevant grounds for appeal 
  • a copy of the notice where applicable
  • a copy of the original felling licence or direction 
  • a map indicating the area under appeal  
  • a copy of any TPO affecting the appeal site and contact details for the relevant local authority
  • any other information you feel is relevant to your case

This information should be sent:

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change & Rural Affairs 
c/o Land, Nature and Forestry Division
Forestry Resources Policy Branch
Welsh Government Offices
Crown Buildings
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

A copy of the form should also be sent to NRW:

Natural Resources Wales
Welsh Government Offices
Crown Buildings
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

Appeal process 

On receipt of your appeal, we will: 

  • check the grounds for appeal are valid
  • check we received the appeal within the prescribed period
  • check if the appeal is 'frivolous'

A case may be considered ‘frivolous’ if, for example:  

  • it does not appear to have any serious purpose or value
  • it does not present any specific grounds for appeal
  • it seems that an appeal based on the content of the form would have no real prospect of success

This is not an exhaustive list, and each case will be considered on its own merit.

If the grounds for appeal are invalid, we will write to you to explain why we cannot accept your appeal

If the appeal is valid, we will acknowledge receipt of your appeal and set out further details of the appeals process. We may also ask for further information. 

We will also write to NRW inviting them to submit information for the appeal.

We will arrange for the appeal to be heard by a CoR on a convenient date. We will arrange a site visit if you or the CoR ask for this.

We will share all evidence provided by you and NRW between all parties in advance of the hearing.

We will invite you to attend the hearing to make your case to the CoR who will also hear evidence from NRW. You can do this in person or by virtual meeting. 

The CoR will write a report of recommendations. This will be submitted for consideration by the Minister for Climate Change. The exception are reports relating to felling directions which are considered by NRW.

Depending on the nature of the appeal, the Minister may: 

  • decide to confirm, reverse or modify NRW’s decision or notice, or 
  • instruct them to issue a further notice e.g. to end the suspension of a felling licence 

For notices relating to environmental conditions or risk of harm to the environment, the Minister may:

  • confirm, or 
  • cancel the notice 

even where only one element has been successfully appealed. If cancelled, NRW will re-issue the notice to you removing the element that has been successfully appealed. 

We will send confirmation of the outcome of your appeal and the basis for that decision in writing.

After your Appeal

If your appeal is not successful, you must comply with the decision made by NRW and/or the terms of the notice given to you. Failure to do so may result in further enforcement by NRW or a penalty. 

For notices relating to environmental conditions or risk of harm to the environment, you may be entitled to compensation if your appeal is successful, depending on the circumstances. Please see section 6 of NRW’s Guidance for Applicants and Felling Licence Holder (on for further information.

The Minister’s decision is final. It can only be challenged in the High Court on a point of law (known as “judicial review”) subject to the Court’s permission to do so. You may wish to get independent legal advice for further information if this situation arises.