The 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
The regulations apply to hedgerows that are on, or
- 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
The regulations do not apply to any
- 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
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.
Please contact Steve Dores, Senior Arboricultural Officer
Link to Application Form
Link to Application Form Guidance Notes
For Household Nuisance Hedges
External Link: DEFRA
External Link: The Hedgerow
There is a free service for general enquiries on these
Senior Arboricultural Officer
Telephone: (01902) 696000
Fax: (01902) 696403