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The first phase of the Forestry Commission’s new approach to consultation is live

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Woodland creation, Woodland management

A person sitting on a quad bike facing three people standing up and talking to them. The quad bike is in a grassy field with trees in the background

Back in September 2023 we announced our new approach to how we consult or seek advice and information on forestry proposals. This published statement set out how the Forestry Commission, on behalf of the Forestry Commissioners, will undertake consultation when assessing applications for woodland creation, tree felling and management.  

These changes will deliver efficient decision making and accelerate application processing times. They will simplify evidence gathering for forestry proposals and avoid duplication, whilst still adhering to other environmental legislation and good practice guidelines.  

We are pleased to advise that the first phase for implementing this new approach (phase 1a and 1b see table below) will be implemented today (26 February 2024). This will include the shortening of the consultation public register timescales from 28 days to 21 days, and only seeking advice and information from non-statutory consultees when necessary. 

What do these changes mean?

  •  from Monday 26 February 2024, we will undertake consultation only when there is a statutory or mandatory requirement to do so. The Forestry Commission will engage with other stakeholders when we  identify the need for it, for example, to gather more information, advice, or clarity 
  • there is no change to the underlying protections, constraints, and interests across England, or to any of the organisations responsible for them. For those sites or features where there is a statutory requirement to consult, the Forestry Commission will still do so, in line with relevant legislation  
  • all consultation undertaken after 26 February 2024 (regardless of when the application was received) will adopt the new approach whereby the Forestry Commission will only seek advice and information from non-statutory consultees where necessary 
  • for proposals where consultation commenced before 26 February 2024, we will continue using the old approach
  • all proposals that were listed on the consultation public register before 26 February 2024 will run for 28 days. Any proposals input on the public register after 26 February will run for 21 days 

Where can I find out more? 

The changes to the consultation approach are outlined in the Forestry Commissioners' statement on consultation procedures for forestry applications.

Our previous blog published on the 18 September 2023 on the Forestry Commission’s new approach to consultation on forestry applications, sets out our commitment to using existing ways of working until our internal guidance and business processes had been reviewed and amended .

When will these changes be made?

The Forestry Commission will roll out the revised approach over the coming months, further announcements will be made as these changes are introduced. These changes will be implemented using a phased approach.

You can see the full list of changes and dates below:

Phase Change Dates
Phase 1a

Shortened consultation public register period

System changes will be made to shorten the time woodland creation grants and felling licence applications will be on the public register (from 28 to 21 days)

26 February 2024
Phase 1b

The FC will only seek advice or information when needed

  • Publication and roll out of internal guidance and training for Forestry Commission staff
  • This approach to decision making can be applied to woodland creation grants, felling licences and woodland management plans
26 February 2024
Phase 2

Introduction of ‘consult only once’

  • Introduction of consultation process as part of Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG)
  • Amendments to the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) to reuse consultation outcome from WCPG where appropriate
Spring 2024 TBC
Phase 3

Review implementation of new consultation process

After one year of implementation, review how successful changes have been and whether amendments are required

Spring 2025 TBC

How do I stay up to date with the implementation?  

If you wish to stay up to date on future announcements subscribe to email alertsor subscribe to our blog.

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  1. Comment by Brian Edge posted on

    In phase 1a, how is a public consultation register made 'public'. Public notification is no use if it is hidden within a website which has to be specifically searched for - to do this would require foresight into the request being made in the first place: something Joe Public would not be aware of (until it is too late to present any objection).
    So, does this change effectively mean that the Forestry Commission & UK Government can railroad the planting of woodland without consideration to those whose lives are directly impacted by the creation of the woodland areas?
    Does this also mean that the FC can force a change of land use without consultation equivalent to that undertaken if the change of land use has commercial implications or negative social implications?

    • Replies to Brian Edge>

      Comment by Rebecca Clayton posted on

      Thank you for your comment. Depending on the scale and sensitivity of woodland creation projects, it is expected that applicants will speak to their local community (for example a parish council and neighbours) and relevant organisations before submitting their project to the Forestry Commission. Once submitted, as part of the Forestry Commission’s consultation process, the application will be published on the public consultation register and relevant organisations may be contacted for information and advice. The public can provide their comments on projects through the register. All comments are considered, and the application is assessed to ensure it meets the UK Forestry Standard, prior to issuing a decision on the project.

      Information on how to use and access the consultation register can be found on the Forestry Commission webpage. The consultation register can be searched using the interactive map or by postcode. If you require further information, or are having any problems using it, you can contact the Support team by emailing To hear about woodland creation projects in your local area you can also sign up to our regional E-alerts system for public registers and consultation on forestry projects.