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Hedgerow protection

Girl picking blackberries from a hedgerow
Chris O'Donovan

Hedgerows are protected from development if they meet certain criteria. Learn more about the rules.

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 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.