- Hedgerows and the Law
of hedgerows can often be an issue for debate. Unless deeds or other legally
binding documents state otherwise, it is generally accepted that, if a
ditch exists alongside the hedge, the hedge belongs to the landowner on
the side with no ditch. On tenanted land, all trees and saplings belong
to the landlord while all bushes will be the property of the tenant.
hedges are usually the property of the adjacent landowner who must ensure
that hedges and trees do not overhang highways, road signs or street lights
or obstruct public footpaths or bridleways. The landowner must also ensure
that clippings following trimming do not cause a hazard on the highway.
In practice the County Council/Highways Authority often takes action to
ensure compliance to maintain road safety on roadside hedges. The Somerset
Hedge Group is working with roadside contractors to encourage sympathetic
farmer or landowner wishing to remove a length of hedge greater than 20
metres is required to seek permission from the local authority. The hedge
will then be assessed against criteria including age, historical
interest, number of woody species and features associated with the hedge.
If the hedge is deemed important a Hedgerow Retention Notice
will be served. If you have received no notice within 6 weeks of the authority
receiving the notification, the hedgerow may be removed. If a Retention
Notice is served, you may appeal against the decision. A fine of up to
£5000 may be imposed in a Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine
in the Crown Court if the necessary permission is not obtained.
and Countryside Act 1981 and amendments
should not be trimmed during the bird-nesting season. It is an offence
under the Wildlife & Countryside Act Section 1 (1) to kill,
injure or take wild birds and to take, damage or destroy the
nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built.
Undertaking hedge management (trimming, laying, and coppicing) between
November and the end of February should ensure compliance with the law,
but it is the responsibility of hedge workers to check no birds are nesting.
Where a hedge or hedge bank contains a badger sett or sett workings, the
landowner must consult the Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (DEFRA) before any work commences. It is an offence to interfere
with an active badger sett and a licence must be applied for.
licences (Forestry Act 1965)
hedgerow maintenance or restoration requires the removal of hedgerow trees,
it may be necessary to obtain a felling licence from the Forestry Authority.
You may removed up to 3 cubic metres of timber (about 3 medium sized trees)
per calendar quarter without the need to obtain a felling licence.
in a hedge may be protected by a Tree Preservation Order or Conservation
Area status. If a tree or group of trees is covered by such a designation,
you must consult your local authority before you undertake any work on
the tree. General maintenance or restoration of the hedge does not require