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Ban on hedge cutting has begun for 2017 under Cross Compliance
Cutting and trimming hedges and trees entered its closed period on the 1st March, placing a ban on hedge cutting until the 31st August. This is a Cross Compliance requirement under GAEC 7a: Boundaries and GAEC 7c: Trees.
The closed period has always applied under Cross Compliance, but this timeframe was extended by one month in 2015. The ban is in place to protect hedgerows during the bird- breeding season. The extension was brought into play to cover the main chick-rearing season and is applicable to trees as well and hedges.
Basic Payment Scheme claimants must adhere to the requirements of the ban on all eligible land being used for agriculture, which may include woodland, or face a reduction in the BPS payment amount.
Rules on hedges apply to any hedge growing, in or adjacent to, any land forming part of the agricultural area of your holding which has either; a continuous length of at least 20 meters, is part of any such length, or is a continuous length of less than 20 metres where the hedge meets at an intersection or junction which has another hedge at each end. Additionally, gaps of 20 meters or less and any gap resulting from a breach of the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 will be treated as a part of the hedge.
Landowners or managers who require an exemption may apply to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) for derogation under two circumstances.
Firstly, if the hedge cutting is to enhance the environment, improve public or agricultural access, or for reasons relating to livestock or crop production. The second area for which exception may be considered is to cut or trim a tree in a hedgerow during the month of August explicitly for the purpose of sowing Oil Seed Rape or temporary grassland.
The first of these circumstances also relates to the hedge overhanging a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way. Permission to trim will be granted if the overhanging hedge causes an obstruction to vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders. Permission to cut will also be granted if the hedge is dead, damaged or insecurely rooted, if a new hedge requires trimming within the first 6 months of it being laid or if new hedging is required to be laid during this period.
Derogation to cut a tree within a hedgerow would need to be considered under GAEC 7c: Trees with respect to an issue involving the tree itself, or GAEC 7a: Boundaries if the request to cut involves a hedgerow within which the tree is part of.
If a tree within a hedgerow has been issued with a licence to be felled, permissions will also be required under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 if it is proposed to remove part of the hedgerow as a part of the felling process.
Early application for any derogation permissions is heavily advised. If you require any support with applications for licenses to cut or fell during the banned season, or require advice on any areas
of land management or the BPS, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.