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.

Guy Smith_119_180NFU 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.”

  • Posted by: NormanPosted on: 06/03/2015 13:30:51

    Comment: ridiculous and needless change to sept 1 start date.birds don't nest that late else chicks not strongenough to winter. beuro madness
  • Posted by: ANDREW GOODRIDGEPosted on: 13/03/2015 16:59:59

    Comment: It is good to see the interests of the birds being protected but as some one who has planted over half a mile of new hedges,is in a hedge scheme and has many different red alert birds I wonder when my needs will be protected and those of my workmen who work long hours which is safe and possible in the summer months but not in winter with dark evenings and short days. Days which are ideal for filling in forms at a slow broadband speed on non existant RPA schemes. Am I the only farmer losing the will to live?
    The only nesting site on my farm in August is one created by the farm students who come to help out with the harvest!
  • Posted by: BillPosted on: 10/06/2015 18:24:40

    Comment: Over 40years of hedge trimming, I have never been aware of nesting birds in August so maybe someone needs educating in Brussels? Stupidity Rules Again
  • Posted by: RogerPosted on: 14/08/2015 17:12:17

    Comment: The only birds that nest this late would be lazy Pigeons, most of the rest of the year farmers are trying to kill them to prevent devastation of crops such as Oilseed Rape. The pressure on hedge cutting contractors having lost a month out of their season, and the abilities a non harvest day presents for farmers to start cutting hedges in August, these are just another burden the rule makers thrown at us. Please can we have rule makers that have actually seen a farm.
  • Posted by: Robin BarnesPosted on: 20/08/2015 21:02:09

    Comment: Do the hedge-cutting rules restricting cutting from Sept 1 only covers those with CS agreements or is it a national law?
  • Posted by: Roy ForbesPosted on: 30/08/2016 13:16:01

    Comment: I live in the Countryside of South Shropshire and we are surrounded by hedgerows that this year have been allowed to grow and extra metre in height. I needed to trim some growth off one adjacent to my property and as I was cutting it a middle aged woman on horse back came up and told me I shouldn't do that and think of the wildlife. My own country hedge in my garden is kept neat and tidy and attracts more and more small birds every year whereas the other hedges in the village just attract pigeons and crows. Now the hedges get so wide and tall it is becoming more and more dangerous to walk along the pathways or venture into the roadways.
  • Posted by: jwPosted on: 29/03/2017 16:17:29

    Comment: I have always thought that cutting a hedge in winter time was the best time to work as there are no leaves on the hedge and no (or should I say little) wildlife to disturb ,this is surley the best time to work
  • Posted by: Mark CorePosted on: 23/08/2017 10:23:09

    Comment: Farmers across our fields in Fleckney are cutting hedges this morning 23rd August. Is this legal?

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