New rules on hedgerows came into force on 1st June 1997:
- It is against the law to remove most countryside hedgerows without permission.
- To get permission to remove a hedgerow you must contact your local planning department.
- If the authority decides to prohibit removal of an important hedgerow it must let you know within 6 weeks.
- If you remove a hedgerow without permission (whether it is important or not) you may face an unlimited fine. You may also have to replace the hedgerow.
You will need permission to removal your hedgerow if your hedgerow is on, or runs alongside:
- agricultural land
- common land, including town or village greens;
- land used for forestry or the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys; or
- a Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest.
You will not need permission if your hedgerow
- is shorter than 20 metres (unless both ends join up with other hedgerow or it is part of a longer hedgerow); or
- is in, or borders, your garden, though garden hedges can be subject to retention requirement under planning conditions, you are therefore advised to check your deeds or contact the Trees Officer prior to removing garden hedging.
- Gaps of 20 metres or less are counted as part of the hedgerow. A gap may be a break in the vegetation or it may be filled, by for example, a gate.
You also do not need permission to remove your hedgerow:
- to get access - either in place of an existing opening, provided that you plant a new stretch of hedgerow to fill the original entrance, or when another means of entry is not available, except at disproportionate cost. You are advised however, to contact the authority prior to undertaking this work;
- to gain temporary entry to help in an emergency; or
- to implement a planning permission (but in the case of permitted development rights, most hedgerow removal WILL require prior permission).
Normal management of your hedgerow does not require prior permission.