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Tree Wardens

Hedgerow protections passed into law before Parliament dissolves

The Tree Council

May 24, 2024

The Tree Council welcomes the passing of UK Government legislation to protect hedgerows in England, including a cutting ban between March and the end of August.

In April, the Government announced its intention to introduce hedgerow protections, which had lapsed as cross compliance with European rules ended at the beginning of the year.

Now The Management of Hedgerows (England) Regulations 2024 has been made into law, effective from May 23 2024, providing a legal baseline for hedgerow management practices.

This includes:

  • a 2-metre buffer strip, measured from the centre of a hedgerow, where a green cover must be established and maintained. Also, no cultivation or the application of pesticides or fertilisers should take place within this buffer strip.
  • a hedgerow cutting ban from 1 March to 31 August (inclusive).

Annie Heslop, Hedgerow Lead at The Tree Council, said: “The Tree Council welcomes the introduction of UK government legislation to protect hedgerows in England.

“These regulations put into law important hedgerow management practices to protect nesting birds, and boost biodiversity and carbon storage in our hedge margins.”

The new legislation broadly mirrors the previous approach under cross compliance, which should make it straightforward for farmers and others who are familiar with the requirements.

The Government says the regulations will be enforced by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), in “a fair and proportionate way” and the RPA has been talking to farmers and others about the best approaches. From day one, the RPA says it will take an “advice-led approach”, with stronger actions in only the worst cases.

The RPA will hold a public consultation on how to implement and enforce these protections in due course.

Annie Heslop added: “The consultation on hedgerow protection, to which The Tree Council contributed, revealed very high levels of support across sectors for maintaining hedgerow protections, so we are optimistic they will be welcomed and followed.

“We look forward to working with the RPA on its consultation around the implementation and enforcement of the new regulations.”

To find out more, please visit www.defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/2024/05/23/hedgerow-regulations-now-law/

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