The future of hedgerow protections – government publishes response

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, new legislation has now become law under the Management of Hedgerows (England) Regulations 2024.

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 said it would pursue 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: new legislation update.

This page was first published on 12 October 2023. It was updated on 23 May 2024.

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  • 23 May 2024: The Management of Hedgerows (England) Regulations 2024 comes into force.
  • 16 April 2024: Defra lays hedgerow SI before parliament.
  • 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.