Trees, hedgerows and high hedges
Many countryside hedgerows are protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. The Hedgerow Regulations were introduced to help address the widespread loss of countryside hedgerows that had occurred due to intensification of farming methods. The regulations introduced new arrangements for local planning authorities in England and Wales to protect important hedgerows in the countryside, by controlling their removal through a system of notification. It is unlawful to remove or destroy certain hedgerows without the written permission of your local planning authority.
Important hedgerows are those that:
- mark the boundary of a historic parish or township existing before 1850
- contain or are within an archaeological feature which is on the Sites and Monuments Record, or a pre 1600 manor or estate
- are part of or are associated with a field system predating the Inclosure Acts
- contain species in part one of Schedule 5; or Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; or defined in Schedule 3 of the regulations plus at least 2 associated features
- include one or more of the following: at least 7 woody species, at least 6 woody species plus at least 3 Associated Features, at least 6 woody species including a black poplar; large-leaved lime, small-leaved lime or wild service tree, at least 5 woody species and at least 4 associated features
Which hedgerows are covered by the regulations?
Hedgerows on or adjacent to the following:
- common land
- village greens
- sites of scientific special interest
- local nature reserves
- land used for agriculture, forestry or for the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys
The regulations do not apply to garden hedges (which are defined as hedgerows within or marking the boundary of the curtilage of a dwelling house).
What happens when a landowner wants to remove a hedgerow?
Any landowner who wishes to remove a hedgerow must serve a Hedgerow Removal Notice in writing on their local planning authority. The authority then has 42 days to determine whether or not the hedge is considered 'important' under the regulations, and if so, whether or not to issue a retention notice, even if the hedgerow counts as important.
A hedge can be cheap to create and last for a long time, providing an ideal garden boundary but the wrong hedge may bring problems.
If you are planting a new hedge, the leaflet 'The right hedge for you' can help you choose what is best for you and your garden.
Issues with a high hedge
If you’re experiencing problems with someone’s hedge, the best way to deal with the issue is to talk to them about it. You can get guidance on how to resolve differences caused by high hedges from the GOV.UK website.
The leaflet 'Over the garden hedge' issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government also offers guidance to help you agree what is right for you and your neighbour(s).
If you are unable to resolve the issue you can complain to us but before we can do any work you must pay £500 for our service. You'll also need to evidence that you have tried to resolve the issue yourself using the GOV.UK guidance. Evidence can include copies of letters and emails.
The leaflet 'High hedges: complaining to the Council' explains the procedure for making a complaint to us.
Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which provides a legal definition of a hedge, grants us powers to deal with your complaint.
Once we receive your complaint along with the evidence you have tried to resolve the issue and the fee of £500 we’ll take measurements and if we determine it is a high hedge we'll take action. This action will require the owner to reduce the hedge to a determined height and we will enforce the work, if necessary.