Recently, I have been reviewing the environmental impact of the removal of a number of hedges within and around the perimeter of a site.
As often happens, the discussion centred on legal compliance issues and whether the hedgerow was captured by specific legislation with the immediate question of:
Q. When is a Hedgerow not a Hedgerow?
It is a strange question to ask as it appears obvious, at first glance, that a hedgerow is a number of hedges growing together in a line.
It is worth recalling that hedgerows play an important role on farms; helping to prevent soil erosion and water run-off, providing shelter, controlling livestock and protecting crops from the wind. Additionally, they provide an important habitat for wildlife and are often seen as defining the character of the English landscape.
From an environmental protection perspective, a hedgerow is protected by The Hedgerows Regulations 1997 (1997 No. 1160).
These Regulations make provision for the protection of important hedgerows in England and Wales. The Regulations does a good job or not defining a hedgerow per se but specifies those hedgerows that are protected under the Regulations.
So the Regulations apply to any hedgerow growing in, or adjacent to, any common land, protected land, or land used for agriculture, forestry or the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys, if—
- it has a continuous length of, or exceeding, 20 metres; or
- it has a continuous length of less than 20 metres and, at each end, meets (whether by intersection or junction) another hedgerow.
The Regulations do not apply to any hedgerow within the curtilage of, or marking a boundary of the curtilage of, a dwelling-house. So a hedgerow may look like a hedgerow surrounding a house but unless it, also, borders on “any common land, protected land, or land used for agriculture, forestry or the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys…”, it is not a hedgerow for protection under these Regulations
So, the answer to the posed question “When is a Hedgerow not a Hedgerow?” is
A. When is isn’t important
For further information on hedgerows, please find a copy of the Regulations at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1997/1160/contents/made and useful guidance from Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/land-manage/landscape-features/hedgerows/