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Hedges-The Law

There are a number of legal issues that affect Cornish Hedges and hedgerows including:

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The Hedgerow Regulations 1997 were made under section 97 of the Environment Act 1995 and took effect on 1 June 1997. They introduced arrangement for local planning authorities (LPAs) to protect important countryside hedgerows through a system of notification. Such hedgerows are frequently valuable because of their historical, ecological and landscape characteristics.

Primary advice regarding the provisions of the Regulations is given in ‘The Hedgerow Regulations – A Guide to the Law and Good Practice’. Anyone proposing to remove a countryside hedgerow must give the LPA 42 days notice (a Hedgerow Removal Notice) of their intentions.

For more information on the Hedgerow Regulations visit the Hedgerow Regulations page.

Hedgerows can be important habitat for, birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. Bird nesting season in Cornwall can range from February to mid August, however many species produce additional broods depending upon climate and habitat.

Management operations should take particular care in relation to protected plants, animals, habitats and consideration should be given to statutory obligations found within, for example, the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981, Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 as amended or superseded.

For instance it is an offence, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Part 1(1), intentionally to take, damage or destroy any wild bird or its nest while being built or in use, or to take or destroy its eggs or chicks. Incidental destruction of any of these, if it could have been reasonably avoided, is also an offence, Part 1(4).

Further information and advice can be sought from Natural England and the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

Tenants should get their landlord's prior written consent for hedge management which may contravene their tenancy agreement.

Before felling or pruning trees on hedges check whether they are protected or whether a Felling Licence is required. For more details take a look at our Tree Protection page

For roadside hedges, see our highway hedge advice leaflet.