Do I need permission to remove a hedgerow?

The Hedgerows Regulations of 1997 mean that it is against the law to remove most hedges without permission. Removal is uprooting or otherwise destroying a hedgerow. There are a number of exceptions which include essential work by the utilities and emergency access.

Proper maintenance, including coppicing, severe pruning and ‘laying’ are allowed without specific permission.

The regulations only cover hedgerows that are:

  • at least 20 metres long or that are connected to other hedgerows at both ends, or are part of a longer hedgerow
  • in or adjacent to common land, village greens, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) or land used for agriculture, forestry or breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys

Trees within a hedgerow are considered to be a part of the hedge and are therefore subject to the restrictions of these regulations.

Individual trees and groups of trees may also be protected by a tree preservation order or by being within a conservation area. You can find out more about tree preservation orders and check the status of a tree on our tree preservation order page.

How to apply for permission

If you wish to remove all or part of a hedgerow please download Form of hedgerow removal notice and send to us. Please include a map or plan of the area indicating where the hedgerow is and which section you wish to work on.

Protecting nesting birds

We recommend that cutting hedges and trees is avoided between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds. If the work is urgent, sensitive methods can be used to avoid harm to nesting birds with the advice of a qualified ecologist.

It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. It will be an intentional act, for example, if you or your neighbour know there is an active nest in the hedge and still cut the hedge, damaging or destroying the nest in the process.

How do I make a complaint about a high hedge that is blocking light to your property?

Matters relating to ‘high hedges’, as defined under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, are dealt with by the Environment and Community Team. Please visit our Pollution control - nuisances page for more information.

Further information about high hedges

For further information please visit:

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