Hedgerows bring benefits to Herefordshire’s landscape, biodiversity and environment. We believe their beauty in the landscape should be retained for future generations to enjoy.
Benefits of hedgerows
These intricate ecosystems hold many benefits:
- They play a particularly important role in conservation. Hedgerows are a vital habitat for many farmland and woodland birds and mammals, some of which are protected species. Trees growing along their length provide additional useful habitat.
- They act as barriers between polluting fertilisers, pesticides, sediment and watercourses.
- They also help regulate the rate of flow of water between different areas.
- Well-maintained hedgerows provide both barriers and shelter for stock.
- Hedges in urban areas provide sustainable drainage and reduce the impact of air pollution. They also provide a habitat for urban wildlife and improve the look and feel of built up areas.
- Scientist are also now aware of the importance of hedgerows in counteracting climate change. This vast biomass of hedgerow across the land absorbs CO2 and stores it as living tissue.
Hedgerows in Herefordshire
Because hedgerows are living ecosystems we need to manage and maintain them to keep them in good condition. We regret seeing large hedges and their hedgerow trees removed for developments, when keeping them would enhance the provision.
We’re pleased that Herefordshire Council safeguards numerous hedges under the Hedgerow Regulations but are worried that hedges are still being lost to development. There is evidence that some hedges are removed unlawfully.
We love our county hedges so much we’ve produced a booklet to celebrate them… we hope you’ll enjoy reading Hedgerows and Verges in Herefordshire.
We believe its important to keep good records, to identify valued features before unthinking felling destroys them.
Surprisingly little information is available on Herefordshire’s hedgerows. However we know that our varied landscapes mean the county is rich in diverse hedgerows, often containing substantial trees.
Herefordshire hedges are mostly old. With many hedges already present in the county, the Parliamentary Acts, and their associated Awards, in the 18th and 19th centuries made a modest increase in their number.
These Awards transformed 30 or 40% of the landscape of many counties, from an open landscape into one of hedged enclosures. In contrast, less than 5% of Herefordshire changed in this way because it was already well hedged by the end of the 17th century and probably long before.
Good and bad news
We’re delighted when we’re able to help protect these wonderful natural resources. Our dedicated planning volunteers use their wealth of experience to spot valuable hedgerows in planning applications. We submitted comments in Spring 22 in defence of this 400m hedge near Leintwardine, resulting in the permanent protection of a Hedgerow Retention Notice
Sadly, we have some disappointments as well, most recently when an applicant was able to go ahead legally with removal due to delays in processing the planning application.
What you need to know to save a hedgerow:
The Hedgerows Regulations (1997) for England give legal protection to countryside hedgerows. They cannot be removed or destroyed, provided they can be shown to fit a list of conditions.
To comment on a planning application in which part or the whole of a hedgerow may be removed, there are three questions to consider:
- Is it a countryside hedgerow?
- Should the hedgerow be protected?
- Is it an important hedgerow?
Is it a countryside hedgerow?
A countryside hedgerow is a boundary line of bushes that can include trees, and is:
- more than 20m long with gaps of 20m or less in its length
- less than 20m long but meets another hedge at each end
Should the hedgerow be protected?
A hedgerow is protected if it is on or near agricultural land, common land, nature reserves. Hedges to private gardens are not protected.
Is it an important hedgerow?
A hedgerow is important and protected if it is at least 30 years old and meets at least one of the following criteria:
- marks all or part of a parish boundary that existed before 1850
- contains recorded archaeological feature(s)
- is completely or partly next to an archaeological site
- marks the boundary of an estate that existed before 1600
- is part of a field system or looks to be associated with any feature associated with the field system that existed before 1845
- contains protected species (animals, birds, plants)
- contains species that are recorded as vulnerable, endangered or rare
- contains woody species as specified in Schedule 1, Part 11 of the regulations
For further information and more details about hedgerows, go to the Hedgerows Regulations 1997.
You can read here about how we we were able help support and protect a valuable hedgerow near Leintwardine this year using these regulations. Sadly, we were also dismayed by the needless loss of another protected hedgerow in Sellack.
You may also find helpful material in local, records and historic maps or modern Ordnance Survey maps, the Herefordshire Council Local Plan, sections LD2 and LD3, or on the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust website.
If you’d be interested in helping us stand guard over protected hedgerows, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org