Hedgerow Regulations 1997
Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, it is illegal to remove or destroy ‘important’ hedgerows without permission from the local planning authority
The Hedgerow Regulations protect hedgerows that are important from an archaeological, historical, landscape or biodiversity perspective.
A hedgerow is ‘important’ if it has existed for 30 years or more and it meets one of the criteria set out in the Regulations.
The hedgerows covered include those that mark a parish boundary from before 1850, a boundary of a pre-1600 estate or manor, or a pre-enclosure Act field system. They also include hedgerows that mark an archaeological feature of a site that is a scheduled monument or noted on the Historic Environment Record.
Hedgerows that support wildlife species protected by the schedules of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) or included in the relevant Red Data books are also covered.
Important hedgerows under the Hedgerow Regulations also include hedgerows with 4 to 7 woody species in a 30 metre length depending on the other features present. These are:
4 associated features require just 4 woody species in a 30m stretch of hedgerow whereas 3 features require 6 woody species. If there are no associated features then 7 woody species are required.
In addition hedgerows with at least 4 woody species running alongside a footpath only need 2 associated features to be classed as ‘important’ and the regulations to apply.
In order to remove an ‘important’ hedgerow an owner must serve notice on the local planning authority which then decides if it is ‘important’ and if so whether it should be retained.
If the owner is notified that it is not important or hears nothing within six weeks after the notice is served then they may remove the hedgerow.
If no notice is served or if a notice is issued by the local planning authority requiring the hedgerow’s retention, then removal of the hedgerow is a criminal offence.
Further information on the Hedgerow regulations can be found via these links: