Planning and hedgerows

Protecting hedgerows  (Guide to responding to a planning application)

CPRE has long been concerned that countryside hedgerows should be retained, well managed and where necessary restored to a good state. We appreciate the beauty of hedgerows as they change through the seasons and their value as food sources, habitats and 'wildlife corridors', particularly if they're running through intensively farmed land. However planning decisions focus on specific details of hedgerows which we outline below.

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,  summarized  below.

To comment on a planning application to remove  the whole or part of a hedgerow there are three questions to consider:

  1. is it a countryside hedgerow?
  2. should it be protected?
  3. is it an important hedgerow? 

1. 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
  • is less than 20m long but meets another hedge at each end

2. A hedgerow is protected if it is on or near agricultural land, common land, nature reserves. Hedges to private gardens are not protected.

3. A Hedgerow is protected AND important 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, Pat 11 of the Regulations

  See The Hedgerows Regulations (1997) for more details.

You may find it helpful to research local material such as records or maps.  Possible useful sources would be Ordnance Survey maps, the Herefordshire Core Strategy Policies LD2 and LD3 and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.

March 2021

Photo by Simon James on Unsplash