Introduction of hedgerow management rules


30 May 2024

By Olivia Phillips

The Management of Hedgerows (England) Regulations 2024 came into force on 23rd May 2024. The introduction of the new regulations follows a government consultation which focused on identifying new ways to protect hedgerows further to the expiry of previous regulations. The consultation highlighted that hedgerows are a valuable asset to the landscape and aid in protecting wildlife.

The new regulations establish provisions addressing the maintenance and protection of hedgerows, specifically applying to those with a continuous length of 20 meters or more, or hedgerows with a length of less than 20 metres which meets another hedgerow at each end. In terms of location, the rules apply if a hedgerow is growing on, or adjacent to, land used for agricultural purposes which is owned by the owner of the hedgerow.

Most notably, the regulations impose the following rules:

  • A hedgerow must not be cut or trimmed from 1st March to 31st August, although there are specific exemptions.
  • A general maintenance requirement which includes an obligation to establish and maintain a green cover two metres from the centre of the hedgerow.
  • A requirement not to cultivate or apply fertilisers or pesticides to land within two metres of the centre of an important hedgerow unless in certain circumstances.

Failure to comply with the rules is an offence which can result in summary conviction or a fine. The Rural Payments Agency, as the regulating body, may impose civil sanctions if they consider an offence has been committed. It is expected that the Rural Payments Agency will be holding a public consultation in due course.

For further information and to stay up to date with the latest developments, guidance and publications are available from the Rural Payments Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

For personalised legal assistance, please contact a legal advisor at Gepp Solicitors. You can reach us at 01245 228115 or for more information.