High hedges and hedgerows
Hedgerows contribute positively to our landscape character and wildlife habitat. As the most traditional type of field boundary in many areas, hedgerows and their banks are often of considerable historic interest. Many date back to the first enclosure of the land and may incorporate other historic features such as ancient earthworks, parish or estate boundaries. Some hedges are thought to date back to Romano-British time, whilst others are recent enclosures of the late 19th century.
Hedgerows often contain a wide variety of plant and wildlife species and play an important part in conserving and enhancing our biodiversity.
Hedgerow Regulations 1997
The Hedgerow Regulations came into operation on 1 June 1997. They aim to protect important hedgerows in the countryside (garden hedges are not affected) by controlling their removal. Before removing all or part of a hedgerow you must complete a Hedgerow Removal Notice Form, giving your reasons for its removal. There is no fee for this service. We then have 6 weeks to either give or refuse consent. We assess the hedgerow against set criteria before we make a decision. If we think the hedgerow is 'important' then we have to decide whether the proposed work is permissible. Unless we are satisfied that the removal is justified, we will refuse permission. We will do this by sending you a Hedgerow Retention Notice within six weeks of our decision. If you have not received a reply within six weeks of the date on which we receive your original application, you may carry out the works anyway.
If we think the hedgerow is NOT important, then we will give you permission to proceed. This permission will last for two years from the date of the letter.
It is a criminal offence deliberately to remove most countryside hedgerows without prior consent;
If you remove a hedgerow without permission (whether it is an important hedgerow or not) you may face an unlimited fine. You may also have to replace the hedgerow, which will then be automatically 'important' for 30 years.
You do NOT need permission if:
- The hedgerow is shorter than 20 metres in length and not connected to other hedgerows
- It is in or borders a garden
- You are removing it to get access:
- either to replace an existing access (which should then be replanted), or
- where there is no other means of entry or only at a disproportionate cost
- To gain temporary entry to help in an emergency
- To comply with a statutory plant or forestry health order
- To comply with a statutory notice for preventing interference with electric lines
- In connection with statutory drainage or flood defence work
- To implement a full planning permission but not permitted development rights.
However, you must first check that there are no covenants, planning permissions or conditions requiring the hedge to be retained.