Applying for a hedge cutting derogation

Environment and climate
A picture of the edge of a field and a hedge, taken from ground level

The NFU's BPS advisers explain the process of applying for a hedge cutting derogation.

2023 derogation

The rules on cutting hedges and trees are set out in the cross compliance standard GAEC 7a:Boundaries and 7c:Trees. In the past, the NFU has worked with Defra and the RPA to clarify the process of obtaining a derogation to cut hedges in the month of August which is allowed within these cross compliance standards. This derogation follows NFU lobbying.

We have included a guide to applying for a hedge cutting derogation further down this page.

As background, the underlying 2015 CAP regulations covering BPS cross compliance specifically required the protection of birds during the bird ‘breeding and rearing season’. It did not cover this aspect previously under SPS. Evidence gathered from various sources by Defra showed this breeding and rearing season to be 1 March to 31 August inclusive. Under SPS the no cutting period for hedges (only) was 1 March to 31 July inclusive.

Due to concerns raised about this change, the NFU lobbied for a derogation from the rules to allow key timely operations to continue. The background to this lobbying is set out further down the page.

The RPA has confirmed again that a derogation will be put in place for 2023, allowing the trimming of hedges and trees in certain situations in the month of August 2023 . For further information on the cross compliance standard GAEC 7a: Boundaries and 7c: Trees which covers the cutting of these features please refer to the 2023 cross compliance guidance which can be found at: GOV.UK | Cross Compliance 2023.

Also refer to the NFU’s guide to cross compliance 2023 found here: NFU summary cross compliance 2023.

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