Hedgerows Regulations 1997

The Hedgerows Regulations 1997 protect important hedgerows by controlling their removal through a notification system.

The regulations affect hedgerows which are 20 metres or more in length, or if less than 20m in length meet another hedgerow at each end (Gaps which are found within a hedgerow of less than 20m in length are to be counted as part of the hedgerow. Gaps are defined as ‘any opening whether or not it is filled’). They relate to hedgerows which are on, or adjoining land used for; agriculture or forestry, the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys, common land, village greens, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserves.  

Hedges in domestic gardens are not affected by the Regulations.

This prior notification procedure is to be used where a landowner, tenant or utility operator intends to remove a hedgerow. The Authority does not have to be notified:

  • if a small section of hedgerow is removed to make a new opening in  substitution for an existing one which gives access to land
  • if a section of hedge is removed to obtain temporary access to any land in  order to give assistance in an emergency.
  • if a section of hedge is removed to obtain access to land where another means  of access is not available or is available only at disproportional cost.
  • if a hedgerow is removed for national defence purposes.
  • where development has been authorised by planning permission.  (Hedgerow  removal in the course of works permitted under Schedule 2 to the Town and  Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, other than Parts  11 and 30, is however subject to prior notification).
  • to carry out work, under certain Acts of Parliament, for the purposes of flood  defence or land drainage.
  • to prevent the spread of, or to ensure the eradication of a plant or tree pest.
  • for work carried out by the Secretary of State in respect for any highway for  which he is the highway authority.
  • in respect of felling, lopping or cutting back to prevent obstruction of, or  interference with, electric lines and plant, or to prevent danger under the  Electricity Act 1989.
  • for the proper management of a hedgerow. (i.e. cutting back a hedgerow in a  manner which does not result in its destruction).

Offences

A person is guilty of an offence if they:

  • intentionally or recklessly remove, or cause or permit another person to remove, a hedgerow, in contravention or regulation 5(1); or
  • intentionally or recklessly remove, or cause or permit another person to remove, a hedgerow which is the subject of a hedgerow retention notice, in contravention of regulation 5(9).

Any one found guilty of such an offence is liable on conviction to a fine of up to £5 000 in the Magistrates Court, or unlimited in the Crown Court.