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Hedgerows

 

HedgerowThe hedgerows that stretch along country lanes, and divide farmland into fields, are a characteristic feature of much of lowland England. The loss of these rural hedgerows, as a result of changing agricultural needs and practices, has been a matter of concern for many years.
 
Hedgerows create attractive landscapes, and often mark ancient boundaries between parishes. They also provide safe habitats and corridors for a wide variety of wildlife. Their loss on a large scale impoverishes the countryside.
 
The 1997 Hedgerows Regulations give the Council limited powers to protect some rural hedgerows against unnecessary removal.
 
"Removal" of a hedgerow includes not only grubbing-up but also acts that result in the destruction of the hedgerow. Normal management of a hedgerow does not require prior permission from the Council.
 
The regulations apply to hedgerows that are on, or alongside:
 
  • land used for agriculture or forestry
  • common land, including village greens
  • land used for keeping horses, ponies or donkeys
  • a Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest

 

Hedgerow1The regulations do not apply to any hedgerow that:
 
  • forms a boundary of a residential garden
  • is shorter than 20 metres (unless both ends join up with other hedgerows or it is part of a longer hedgerow).

 

Even where the Regulations apply, it may not be necessary to seek permission from the Council. Permission is not needed to remove a rural hedgerow in the following circumstances:
 
  • to gain access, either in place of an existing opening, provided a new stretch of hedgerow is planted to fill the original entrance, or when another means of entry was not available except at 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 and apparatus, in connection with statutory drainage or flood defence work
  • to implement a planning permission (but in the case of "permitted development" rights, most hedgerow removal WILL need prior permission

 

Applying for Permission
 
A landowner who wishes to remove a hedgerow must serve a Hedgerow Removal Notice in writing to the Council. South Staffordshire Council then has 42 days to determine whether or not the hedgerow is 'important' under the Hedgerow Regulations, and whether or not to issue a Hedgerow Retention Notice.
 
If the hedgerow is not 'important', the authority cannot refuse a permission to remove it under these regulations. If the hedgerow is important, it should be protected. However, the authority does not have to issue a retention notice if they are satisfied that circumstances justify the removal.
 
If a hedge is removed without permission (whether important or not) the land owner may face an unlimited fine and may have to replace the hedge.
 
A hedge retention notice is permanent, although a planning authority may withdraw it at any time. If these regulations allow the removal of a hedgerow, this does not over-rule any prohibition or restriction imposed by other agreements or regulations.
 
As of 1st October 2008, the use of a national standard Hedge Removal Notice has also become mandatory. The notification form can be found following the planning application forms link below.
How to Access this Service

Please contact Steve Dores, Senior Arboricultural Officer

Links/Forms

Link to Application Form

Link to Application Form Guidance Notes

For Household Nuisance Hedges

 

External Link: DEFRA

External Link: The Hedgerow Regulations 1997

Costs

There is a free service for general enquiries on these matters.

Main Contact

Steve Dores

Senior Arboricultural Officer
Telephone: (01902) 696000
Fax: (01902) 696403
Email: dcapps@sstaffs.gov.uk

 

 

 

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