Updated Standing Advice for Ancient Woodland, Ancient Trees and Veteran Trees

On the 5th November 2018 updated Standing Advise was issued by the Government on ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees.

Standing advice is pre-written advice that:

  1. explains what applicants need to do to meet legislative and planning policy; and
  2. details what Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) should consider for developments affecting ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees.

It is a material consideration which an LPA must consider when determining a relevant planning application. Standing advice replaces the need for each agency, in this case Forestry Commission and Natural England, to give an individual response to planning consultations.

The standing advice provides details on the following:

  • What constitutes ancient woodland, an ancient tree and a veteran tree.
  • What should be considered with regards to those entities when planning decisions are being made.
  • Advice on when planning permission should be rejected and what would be required if there was an exceptional case.
  • How impacts should be assessed, with the standing advice providing links to inventories that can be used to check for the presence of ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees.
  • How ancient woodlands under 2ha in size may not be shown on these inventories.  The standing advice applies to all ancient woodland and not just those areas shown on the inventories.
  • The types of potential impacts that can occur, both direct and indirect.
  • The importance of providing suitable and sufficient evidence to make a decision, including any necessary ecology and BS5837 tree surveys and, where required, proposed mitigation and compensation measures.
  • The importance of avoiding impacts, mitigating impacts that can’t be avoided and compensating for any loss or damage.
  • That the compensation route is the absolute last resort. The standing advice highlights that ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees are irreplaceable. Any compensation should not be considered as part of the LPAs assessment of the merits of the proposals.
  • How through development proposals, areas of ancient woodland in poor condition can be improved with good management and enhancement.
  • Mitigation measures that can be included with development proposals including screening barriers, noise and/or light reduction, including ancient and veteran trees within open space provision and buffers amongst others.
  • Potential compensation measures that can be implemented as a last resort including planting new native woodland, restoring or managing other ancient woodland including plantation, the creation of green bridges amongst others.
  • When you should contact Natural England and/or the Forestry Commission.

To read the full standing advice please click here.