Hedgerows play an important role on farms as they help prevent soil erosion and water run-off, provide shelter, control livestock and protect crops from the wind. They also provide an important habitat for wildlife and are often seen as defining the character of the English landscape.
This page refers to rural hedges - if you require information about a high hedge in a domestic garden, please see our High Hedges page.
Protection of hedgerows
Hedgerows are protected by the Hedgerows Regulations 1997. Under the regulations, it is against the law to remove or destroy certain hedgerows without our permission. Permission is required before removing hedges that are at 20 metres in length or more, over 30 years old and contain certain species of plant.
These regulations do not apply to any hedgerow within the curtilage of a house, or which mark a boundary of the curtilage of a house.
We will assess the importance of the hedgerow using criteria set out in the regulations.
Hedgerows in areas covered by a Historic Landscape Characterisation are often protected on the basis of historic importance and their wildlife value.
See further information on protection and management of Countryside hedgerows on Defra website.
If you intend to remove a hedgerow in the countryside,