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Hedgerows and their protection

Hedgerows are distinctive features of our countryside and of considerable historical and wildlife habitat value. They make a positive contribution to the character, biodiversity and interest to the landscape.

It is an offence to remove a hedgerow in the open countryside without first obtaining a written notice giving permission. If the hedgerow is protected or important, we may issue a hedgerow retention notice requiring the hedgerow to be kept.

You can apply to remove a countryside hedgerow in an open countryside by applying online.

A hedgerow removal notice form should be used by anyone proposing to remove a hedgerow, or part of a hedgerow, covered by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. This includes hedgerows in the countryside, which are at least 20 metres or more long, or which meet another hedgerow at each end.

You do not need to tell us that you are removing a hedgerow if:

  • it is less than 20m long, is not part of a 20m length and does not meet another hedge at either end
  • it is in or borders a domestic dwelling (e.g. garden hedges or hedges that form the curtilage of a dwelling house)
  • you are making a new opening to replace existing access to the land (the previous access gap must be filled by planting a hedge within 8 months of making the new opening)
  • you are correctly managing the hedgerow by laying or coppicing
  • there is no other cost-effective way of accessing your land
  • you need to create a temporary access point for emergency purposes
  • the land is needed for national defence purposes
  • it is for carrying out work which has planning permission
  • it is to eradicate or prevent disease or tree pests by law (for example, a plant health (forestry) order)
  • it is to prevent interference with or damage to electric power lines and apparatus
  • it is to complete legally permitted drainage or flood defence works
  • new trunk roads or motorways are being built on the site

See Countryside hedgerows: protection and management for further details on:

  • checking if a hedgerow is protected
  • appealing a hedgerow decision
  • when you don’t need to apply to remove a hedgerow
  • reporting a suspected hedgerow offence

Further information is available from:

Last updated 08 December 2023