The future of hedgerow protections – government publishes response

05 March 2024

Environment and climate
A hedgerow alongside a farm

Following Defra's consultation on how to ensure hedgerows in England continue to get the right level of protection once cross compliance ended, the government has submitted its response, giving farmers an insight into what the future holds for hedgerow protection.

Defra sought views on:

  • how the protection of hedgerows should be approached after the end of cross compliance
  • the sanction regime that could be applied to enforce compliance

Defra outlined two possible pathways for the future. The first saw the cross compliance rules adopted into domestic legislation through the Hedgerow Regulations 1997.

The second was a longer process where Defra would construct a body of original domestic policies to cover the management of hedgerows.

Defra has said it will be pursuing the first option, incorporating the cross compliance rules into domestic legislation. It intends to present the necessary legislation for this as soon as parliamentary time allows.

To find out more about current hedgerow regulations visit: Hedge cutting rules: interim guidance.

This page was first published on 12 October 2023. It was updated on 05 March 2024.


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Summary

  • 4 March 2024: Government publishes its future plans for hedgerow regulation
  • 20 September 2023: NFU publishes its consultation response, citing a preference to build on the current rules from cross compliance.
  • 5 July 2023: NFU responds to the call for evidence, seeking member input as part of its response.
  • 28 June 2023: Defra launches its consultation, seeking views on the best way to maintain and improve existing protections of hedgerows as cross compliance comes to an end.