Countryside hedgerows: protection and management

Find out if a hedgerow is protected and what to do if you want to remove or work on countryside hedgerows.

Under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 it is unlawful to remove or destroy certain hedgerows without permission from us.

This legislation is extremely complicated and only applies in certain situations.
 

Check if a hedgerow is protected

A countryside hedgerow is a boundary line of bushes which can include trees. A hedgerow is protected, meaning you cannot remove it, if it meets the following criteria for:

  • length
  • location
  • 'importance'

Works that need permission

You'll need permission, for example, before removing hedges that are:

  • 20 metres or more in length (or of lesser length if the hedge is connected to other hedges)
  • over 30 years old
  • of historic importance
  • supporting a number of woody species
  • of wildlife value as defined under the regulations

There is more information about the rules you'll need to follow to check if a hedgerow is protected on GOV.UK.

Works that don't need permission

You'll not need permission if you are carrying out properly undertaken management of a hedge.

Residential hedges are also not covered by these regulations.
 

Apply to remove a countryside hedgerow

You can only remove the hedgerow if:

  • it's less than 30 years old
  • you're the owner, tenant or manager of the hedgerow
  • you're a utility company that's eligible to remove it

You can apply for a hedgerow removal notice by completing and returning a PDF application form to us. You can refer to the guidance note for help filling in the application.

Application for a hedgerow removal notice (PDF) [293KB]

Application for a hedgerow removal notice guidance note (PDF) [56KB]

When you submit an application to remove a hedgerow you'll need to include 4 copies of a plan which identifies the land to which the application relates. This needs to be drawn to an identified scale and showing the direction of north.

 

Check if you can do other work on a hedgerow

Before trimming, cutting, coppicing or laying hedgerow trees, you must check if:

 


Additional information

Countryside hedgerows: protection and management on GOV.UK