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Hedgerow regulations and application forms for hedgerow removal

The current Hedgerow Regulations came into force on 1st June 1997. Find out how these regulations affect your rights in respect of hedgerow removal.

The Regulations

Under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 (SI No. 1160) it is against the law to remove most countryside hedgerows without permission. To get permission you must send a hedgerow removal notice to the Council's Trees and Landscape Team. If the Council prohibit removal of an important hedgerow, it must let you know within 6 weeks. If you remove a hedgerow without permission you may face an unlimited fine and may have to replace the hedgerow.

You are advised that the information contained on this page is simply a brief summary of the Regulations for information purposes. In all circumstances you should contact Sedgemoor District Council's Trees and Landscape Team for further information prior to undertaking any works.

'Important hedgerows' - the criteria

The list below is a simplified version of the criteria against which a hedgerow is assessed as being 'important'. For more detailed advice please contact us.

  1. Marks a pre-1850 parish or town boundary.
  2. Incorporates an archaeological feature.
  3. Is part of, or associated with, an archaeological site.
  4. Marks the boundary of, or is associated with, a pre 1600 estate or manor.
  5. Forms an integral part of a pre-Parliamentary enclosure field system.
  6. Contains certain categories of species of birds, animals or plants listed in the Wildlife and Countryside Act or Joint Nature Conservation Committee publications.
  7. Includes: (a) At least 7 woody species, on average in a 30 metre length; (b) At least 6 woody species, on average, in a 30 metre length and has at least 3 associated features; (c) At least 6 woody species, on average, in a 30 metre length, including a black-poplar tree, or large-leaved lime, or small-leaved lime, or wild service tree; or (d) At least 5 woody species, on average, in a 30 metre length and has at least 4 associated features.
  8. Runs along a bridle way, footpath, road used as a public path, or a byway open to all traffic and includes at least 4 woody species, on average, in a 30 metre length and has at least 2 of the associated features listed below:

   (a) A bank or wall supporting the hedgerow
   (b) Less than 10% gaps
   (c) On average, at least one tree per 50 metres
   (d) At least 3 species from a list of 57 woodland plants
   (e) A ditch
   (f) A number of connections with other hedgerows, ponds or woodland
   (g) A parallel hedge within 15 metres

Do you need permission to remove your hedgerow, either in whole or part?

Yes, if your hedgerow is on or runs alongside:

  • Agricultural land
  • Common land, including town or village green
  • Land used for forestry or the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys
  • A Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest.

No, if it:

  • Is shorter than 20 metres (unless both ends join up with other hedgerows or it is part of a longer hedgerow)
  • Is in, or borders, your garden. Gaps of 20 metres or less are counted as part of the hedgerow. A gap may be a break in the vegetation or it may be filled by, for example a gate.

You also do not need permission to remove your hedgerows:

  • To get access - either in place of an existing opening, provided that you plant a new stretch of hedgerow to fill the original entrance, or when another means of entry is not available, except at disproportionate cost
  • To gain temporary entry to help in an emergency
  • To comply with a statutory plant or forestry health order
  • To comply with a statutory notice, for preventing interference with electric lines and apparatus
  • In connection with a statutory drainage or flood defence work
  • To implement a planning permission (but in the case of permitted development rights, most hedgerow removal WILL require prior permission
  • Normal management of your hedgerow does not require prior permission.

Application forms are simple to complete and there is no charge made by Sedgemoor District Council to process an application. The application forms and guidance notes are in the green links box below, but please contact our Landscape Officer if you want any further information or to clarify any aspects you are concerned about.

To view decisions made in respect of hedgerow removal notifications please visit Planning Online.

Please use our Interactive Mapping Online Tool to produce a location plan and indicate the position of the hedgerow requiring works. 

Application Form

We welcome and encourage applications submitted electronically.

Guidance Notes

Validation Checklist

Related pages

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Does removing a hedgerow just mean grubbing it up?

No. Removal also includes other actions that result in the hedgerow being destroyed, but coppicing, laying and the removal of dead or diseased shrubs or trees are treated as normal management.

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Who can seek permission to remove a hedgerow?

Only the landowner, agricultural tenant, farm business tenant or certain utilities, such as gas companies.

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How do I ask for permission to remove a hedgerow?

You need to send Sedgemoor District Council a hedgerow removal notice. There is no application fee. The relevant forms are available below.

Application Form

Guidance Notes

Validation Checklist

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What happens after Sedgemoor District Council has received the notice?

The Landscape Officer will visit the site to assess whether the hedgerow is "important" and may enter your land. To be "important" the hedgerow must: a) Be at least 30 years old, and b) Meet at least one of the criteria listed in the "important" criteria. This criteria identifies hedgerows of particular archaeological, historical, wildlife or landscape value. Sedgemoor District Council will also consult the local Parish Council on the matter.

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What if the hedgerow is not 'important'?

Sedgemoor District Council cannot refuse you permission to remove the hedgerow, and should inform you in writing that the hedgerow can be removed. However this permission does not override the need to notify or obtain consent under other legislation, or any contractual obligations.

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What if the hedgerow is 'important'?

Sedgemoor District Council will decide if the circumstances justify removal of an important hedgerow. The strong presumption is that important hedgerows will be protected. Unless satisfied that removal is justified, the Council must refuse permission and issue a hedgerow retention notice.

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What if I hear nothing from the authority?

If you have not heard 6 weeks after Sedgemoor District Council received your hedgerow removal notice, you can remove the hedgerow. This is unless you have agreed a longer timescale with the Council.

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How long does a permission last?

2 years from either the date of Sedgemoor District Council's written permission or the ending of the 6 week period. The permission is for work set out in your proposal only.

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How long does a hedgerow retention notice last?

It is permanent. But if circumstances change you may submit a fresh removal notice.

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Can I challenge the hedgerow retention notice?

You can appeal to the Secretary of State in writing within 28 days of being given the Council's decision.

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What if I remove a hedgerow without asking for permission?

It is a criminal offence to deliberately remove a hedgerow without permission (unless permission is not required). If found guilty by a magistrates' court you could face a fine of up to £5,000. If tried in the crown court, the fine is unlimited.

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Do I have to replace a hedgerow if I remove it without permission?

Sedgemoor District Council may say that you have to plant another hedgerow and have legal powers to ensure that this is done. The replacement hedgerow is automatically 'important' for 30 years after it has been planted.

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Are there grants available for restoring or maintaining hedgerows?

The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers may be able to help with practical restoration. Free initial advice is available from ADAS and FWAG, who can advise on grants and the management of hedgerows.

pdf Managing hedges to benefit pollinators [1.67MB] pdf Hedgerow Regulations FAQ [297.15KB] arrowDepartment for Environment Food & Rural Affairs arrowProtecting rural landscapes and features