Trees are a vital part of the Moray landscape. They add colour and interest to the townscape, provide a sense of nature in the built environment and contribute greatly to the character of our towns and villages. They also provide wider benefits by harbouring wildlife, filtering dust, modifying wind and noise and by helping to absorb carbon dioxide which is one of the main greenhouse gases that causes global warming. As such, there is a strong presumption against tree and woodland removal.
Below are a few Q & A you may want to look at before carrying out any work on a tree(s). If a tree is protected under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) 1997 Act, there is a maximum £20,000 fine for contravention of this legislation.
Do I need permission before I cut down or prune trees?
Responsibility for the management of trees, including protected trees, rests with the owner of the land upon which they stand. However anyone may apply to carry out work to trees, provided they receive the landowners permission prior to undertaking the work. You will need permission from the Council if the tree is:-
a) Protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
With few exceptions it is an offence to do any work on a tree covered by a TPO without the permission of the Council. TPO’s exist on individual or groups of trees across Moray which are of amenity value to the community as a whole.
b) Is within a Conservation Area
The Council should be given 6 weeks written/email notice of intended works on any tree(s) with a trunk diameter of more than 7.5cm (measured 1.5 metres above ground level) in Conservation Areas. In accordance with Policy EP7 (d) of the Moray Local Development Plan (MLDP) 2020, the Council will only agree to the felling of trees within a Conservation Area if they are dead, dying or dangerous.
c) A condition of a planning consent
Conditions of Planning Permission may be used as a mean of retaining and/or under planting trees. To find out whether your tree(s) is covered by a planning condition, please email your query - including your address - to email@example.com
There may also be a condition on the tree(s) in your house deeds.
If you would like to apply for tree works, please fill in this form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org (TPO and Conservation Areas) or email@example.com (Planning Conditions only) - there is no fee for this service. Please see Guidance Notes for help with completing this form. Applications for proposed tree works must be supported by a report from a qualified Arborist (Level 4 min.) containing a plan clearly identifying the location(s) of each tree and detailing the proposed work(s).
Copies of decision notices made in respect of tree work applications can be found here.
Where trees subject to a TPO or within a Conservation Area must be removed, there will normally be a statutory requirement to plant replacement trees. Trees must be of a minimum 'Standard' size, further details of which can be found in the Tree Technical Specification within Volume 1 of the MLDP 2020. In some cases, a higher specification of tree may be conditioned due to the sensitivity of the amenity and/or if the removal was in contravention of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) 1997 Act / MLDP 2020.
Replacement trees should be like-for-like species and planted in the same place as that felled, unless otherwise agreed. Where an alternative species is proposed, it is important that the trees are in keeping with the area and/or Moray's character. These will normally include: Alder, Aspen, Birch, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Crab Apple, Gean, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Juniper, Sessile Oak, Rowan, Scots Pine, Whitebeam and Willow.
If you feel trees are being illegally felled as they are within one of the above constraints, please report to Development Management (Enforcement) via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 01343 563270.
Trees within your Council garden
If you have an enquiry regarding trees which are in your Council garden, please contact your Housing Officer.
Trees on Council Land e.g. Parks, Cemeteries, Woodlands or Potentially Dangerous Roadside Trees
If you have an enquiry regarding trees which are dangerous or causing you a problem on Council owned land or are on the road side please see our Report It page
Overhanging Branches from Next Door
Where trees grow on or near boundaries, branches may overhang neighbouring property. A neighbour has common law rights to arrange for the cutting back of branches to the boundary in co-operation with the owner and in such a way as to maintain the health and balance of the tree, providing none of the trees were subject to a TPO or were in a Conservation Area (unless agreed otherwise, the wood should be returned). If your neighbour does not want to co-operate, the Council cannot get involved and it would become a civil matter between you and your neighbour unless it is on Council owned land.
Other Tree Felling
Elsewhere (with the exception of small gardens and a few other situations) tree felling and thinning is governed by the Forestry Acts and permission for a Felling License should be sought from Scottish Forestry 0300 067 6210 email@example.com or https://forestry.gov.scot/support-regulations/felling-permissions
Although very small volumes of timber do not require a Felling License, one large tree could require a Felling Licence.
The High Hedges Act 2013 came into force on 1 April 2014. The act aims to provide a solution to the problem of high hedges, where neighbours have been unable to resolve the issue amicably. Please see the Moray Council High Hedges page and also the High Hedges Questions and Answers page.
Trees and Development Guidance
The Council has produced guidance on trees and development for developers and members of the public. The purpose of this guidance is to amplify Policy EP7 (page 84-88) of the Moray Local Development Plan 2020 regarding the protection of trees and to highlight the benefit of trees as an integral part of development design.
Further advice can be found by going to the Citizens Advice website
Economic Growth & Development
The Moray Council
0300 123 4561