“Important” hedgerows (as defined in the Regulations) are protected from removal (up-rooting or otherwise destroying) by the Hedgerows Regulations 1997. Various criteria specified in the Regulations are used to identify “important” hedgerows for wildlife, landscape or historical reasons.
Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 it is against the law to remove or destroy certain hedgerows without permission from the local planning authority. The local planning authority are also the enforcement body for offences created by the Regulations.
Local planning authority permission is normally required before removing hedges that are at least 20 metres (66 feet) in length, more than 30 years old and contain certain plant species. The authority will assess the importance of the hedgerow using criteria set out in the regulations.
Defra is the policy body for the Hedgerow Regulations in England. Natural England has no formal role with regard to the Hedgerow Regulations.
A summary of the Hedgerow Regulations is contained in the Defra leaflet 'Hedgerow Regulations: Your Question Answered'. More detailed guidance is contained in 'The Hedgerows Regulations 1997: A Guide to the Law and Good Practice'. You can request a copy of these, free of charge, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are receiving the funding under the Single Payment Scheme, you need to keep hedgerows in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC).
Particular attention should be paid to GAEC 14 and GAEC 15 in the Cross Compliance Handbook for England (RPA).
More information on Hedges and the law: (183kb) produced by Natural England.
The wildlife and landscape value of hedgerows can be maintained and enhanced by good management.
Hedgelink is the partnership that brings everyone interested in hedgerows together, to share knowledge and ideas, to encourage and inspire, and to work with farmers and other land managers to conserve and enhance our hedgerow heritage.
CPRE launch new report - England's hedgerows: don't cut them out! Making the case for better hedgerow protection