Hedgerow protection

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Rural hedgerows are an essential feature within our countryside, fulfilling many roles such as wildlife habitat/corridors; landscape/archaeological features; historical boundary markers; stock containment and food source. Many have been progressively lost in recent decades due to changes in agricultural practice. 

Statutory protection of hedgerows

Since 1997, certain hedgerows can be protected through the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 under section 97 of the Environment Act 1995. If a hedge fulfils a number of qualifying criteria under these regulations, the owner or applicant must give 6 weeks' notice in writing to the local planning authority before the hedge can be removed. Failure to comply with the regulations can carry a fine imposed by a Magistrates’ court of up to £5000. For anyone convicted in a Crown court, the fine is unlimited. 

The Regulations apply to any hedgerow which: 

  • grows in, or adjacent to any common land, Local Nature Reserve, Site of Special Scientific Interest, or land used for agriculture, forestry of the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies of donkeys; and 
  • has a continuous length of at least 20 metres, or if less than 20 metres, meets another hedgerow at each end. 

In calculating the total length of a hedgerow, any gap resulting from a contravention of these regulations and any gap not exceeding 20 metres should be treated as part of the hedgerow. A hedgerow that meets another hedgerow is to be treated as ending at the point of intersection or junction.

The regulations do not apply to hedges that adjoin a residential garden and so cannot be relied upon to protect hedges that may now form the boundary of new housing developments.

If the Council decides to refuse permission for removal of a hedgerow, it will serve a Hedgerow Retention Notice. The qualifying criteria for the protection of hedgerows by a Hedgerow Retention Notice are complex and consequently are being considered for review by Government. The current criteria relate to the value of features within hedgerows from an archaeological, historical, landscape or wildlife perspective. Details are available from the Government's legislation website.

Appeals against Hedgerow Retention Notices must be made within 28 days to the Planning Inspectorate.

You can check to see a hedge has a Hedgerow Retention Notice by contacting the Arboricultural officer on 01727 866100 or emailing trees@stalbans.gov.uk.

There is a register of works to protected trees and hedges published within the Council’s weekly register of Applications, decisions and appeals.

Please use the links below if you require an application form for a Hedgerow Removal Notice and/or guidance notes.

Other hedgerow protection

Hedgerows may also be protected under Tree Preservation Order’s (see above) and the Inclosure Act 1845  (see link below).

Should anyone require further information in relation to the Inclosure Act, please contact Simon West (simon.west@stalbans.gov.uk)



Date of last review: 29 January 2019