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.
If you're involved in a dispute with another resident over a high hedge, you must first try and resolve the issue between you. Try talking or writing to the person responsible for the hedge, or using a mediation service.
If you have tried all methods to resolve the dispute you can complain to the council. To complain, you must have evidence to show you have tried to address the problem in the last 6 months and has failed. This could include records of letters, conversations and mediation. The council may decline to investigate a complaint if they feel you have not taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter.
You will have to pay a fee for making a complaint. This may vary by council so contact your council for details.
For information on what you can complain about and general advice see: