Hedge-cutting: Know the rules for 2015

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NFU members can read a briefing on the new derogation to trim hedges where oilseed rape or temporary grass is being planted in August. Click here.

This year saw the introduction of new rules for hedge-cutting under cross compliance.

It means that you are not allowed to cut or trim your hedgerow between 1 March and 31 August unless you have applied for a derogation from the RPA and received written permission or any of the following apply:

  • The hedgerow overhangs a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way and the overhanging hedgerow obstructs the passage of, or is a danger to, vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders
  • The hedgerow is dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted and because of its condition, it or part of it, is likely to cause danger by falling on to a highway, road or footpath; or obstructs the view of drivers or the light from a public lamp
  • It is to carry out hedge-laying or coppicing during the period 1 March to 30 April (inclusive)
  • It is to trim a newly laid hedgerow by hand, within six months of it being laid

The change in cutting dates from 2014 was introduced under new EU Regulations requiring the protection of birds during both the breeding and rearing season.

The NFU has lobbied against the later cutting date. When that proved unsuccessful, we fought for and secured a derogation where oilseed rape and grass crops are being planted in August.

To obtain a derogation you must have written permission from the RPA to cut or trim during August for the purposes of sowing oil seed rape or temporary grassland during the same month.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “The NFU is pleased that Defra recognised the practical and agronomic need for farmers to be able to cut hedges in August for those intending to sow oil seed rape or temporary grass.

“Our first preference has always been to seek an exemption to allow hedge-cutting in August and we have continued to question the evidence to justify the non-cutting period for hedges. Since Defra’s announcement on derogation in November, our priority has been to seek a simple and easy process. We have been working with Defra and the RPA to clarify the process and we are pleased that they have listened to our arguments to keep the process of application for a derogation as straightforward and as pragmatic as possible.”