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Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, it is against the law to remove most countryside hedges without permission. The Regulations are quite complex, so it is advisable to discuss your plans at an early stage with the Countryside Section of the Council, before you seek permission formally. The criteria is more fully explained in the Hedgerows Regulations leaflet.

You will need permission if the hedgerow runs either in whole or in part
  • Alongside agricultural land
  • Common land including town or village greens
  • Land used for forestry or breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys
  • A Local Nature Reserve or Site of Special scientific Interest
You generally do not require permission if the hedgerow is in or borders your garden.

There are other exceptions but it is best to seek further advice if you are not sure.

If you remove a hedgerow without permission, regardless of whether it is important or not, you may face an unlimited fine. You may also have to replace the hedgerow.

To get permission to remove a hedgerow, you need to submit a Hedgerow Removal Notice (a form is available for this purpose) and a plan showing the location of the hedgerow. Once the notice has been received, the council has six weeks to investigate the case; the Records Office, Archaeology Centre, Rights of Way and Ecologists all have to check whether it meets the criteria for being important. The views of the parish council are also sought.


If the hedgerow is deemed to be important, permission will be generally be refused for removal, unless there are exceptional circumstances. A Hedgerow Retention Notice will be issued in these circumstances.

If the hedgerow is not important under the criteria, the Council cannot refuse permission to remove the hedge, and will write to inform you. However, it is important to be sure that consent is not required under any other legislation or any contractual obligations.
Removal is best undertaken between the months August to February inclusive, to avoid disturbance to nesting birds, which is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. If hedges are removed at any other time, they must first be checked by an appropriately qualified person to ensure that there are no nesting birds.

Advice on managing hedges

There are various sources of advice available to landowners. You may contact
How high can a hedge around my neighbour’s garden grow?
At present there is no legal limit on the height of hedges, despite a lot of publicity suggesting otherwise. However, the law is likely to change in the near future. To find out more see Hedgeline.

Page last updated on: 11/11/2010