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Last Modified October 19, 2015

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

Hedgerow alongside fieldsHedgerows 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. 

For further information please see the Defra website.

If you intend to remove a hedgerow in the countryside you will need to give notice of this on a standard form.

Further Information

Defra website - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Hedgelink - Hedgelink is the partnership that brings everyone interested in hedgerows together, to share knowledge and ideas, to encourage and inspire, and to work with farmers and other land managers to conserve and enhance our hedgerow heritage.

The Hedgerow Regulations 1997 - view the hedgerow legislation


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