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Countryside hedgerows

Countryside hedgerows are important landscape features that help to define local distinctiveness, and in many instances they act as a link between wooded features and species corridors throughout the landscape. Long established hedgerows can be many centuries old and will have historical and cultural significance as a result. They are natural corridors that provide landscape connectivity, allowing wildlife to move between habitats. Hedgerows provide habitat and refuge for a wide range of plants and animals.

Hedgerows are also important in helping us to respond and adapt to climate change, as they can help to:

  • protect soil
  • regulate water supply
  • provide shelter for livestock
  • act as a buffer for properties against extreme weather events
  • lock up carbon,
  • provide a sustainable source of wood for fuel

For further information about the value and importance of countryside hedgerows is on the Hedgelink website.

Hedgerow Regulations

Hedgerows in the countryside are protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 from being removed without permission.

The regulations cover hedgerows that are on, or run alongside:

  • agricultural land
  • common land
  • village greens
  • nature reserves and protected land
  • land used for forestry
  • land used for the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys.

To qualify for protection, the hedgerow must also be either:

  • more than 20 metres long with gaps of 20 metres or less in length, or
  • less than 20 metres long, but meets another hedge at either end

You will need permission to remove hedgerows in these locations. You do not need permission to remove hedgerows in or bordering gardens. In all locations you should check whether any other restrictions apply for example grant conditions, planning conditions and bird nesting season.

You can apply for permission on the planning portal.

What happens next

The Forest of Dean District Council will decide if the circumstances justify the removal of an important hedgerow. We will let you know within six weeks following submission of your application whether removal is allowed or refused. 

The strong presumption is that important hedgerows will be protected. Unless satisfied that removal is justified, the Council must refuse permission. A Hedgerow Retention Notice will be issued to say that removal of the hedgerow is prohibited. Once issued, the Hedgerow Retention Notice is permanent.

If you remove a hedgerow without permission (whether it is important or not) you may face an unlimited fine. If an important hedgerow has been removed without permission a Hedgerow Replacement Notice will be served by the Council.

More information on protection and management of hedgerows is available on GOV.UK.