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Hedgerows and hedges

Hedgerows play an important role in the landscape, providing attractive boundary treatments, defining land boundaries and providing important habitat for wildlife.

Please have a look at our high hedges webpage to see if you can raise the issue with us.

The Hedgerows Regulations (1997) protect hedgerows, especially in the countryside. You could get a fine up to £5,000 if you break the rules for removing them. In serious cases you could get an unlimited fine for removing hedgerows in cases referred to the Crown Court.

For more information go to the government website Countryside hedgerows: protection and management.

More detailed information can also be found at Hedgerows, retention and replacement notices: the appeal procedures.

If you need to inform the council of a hedgerow removal notice, this can be submitted via the Planning Portal.

To commission an ecologist search at Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. To undertake a historic search, go to Cambridgeshire Historic Environment Record (CHER).

There is currently no law against installing netting to prevent nesting birds in advance of the nesting season. They should be fully enclosed and not open at the ends. It is the best practice to regularly check the nets, and it would be illegal to deliberately kill or injure any wild birds.

If any offence is suspected, or if there is evidence that a nest or wild bird has been harmed, the matter should be reported to the Wildlife Crime Officer in the local police force. See ‘I want to report a wildlife crime’ below.

How you report a suspected hedgerow offence depends on whether the hedgerow is in a:

  • Countryside Stewardship scheme
  • Environmental Stewardship agreement scheme
  • EU basic payment scheme

These schemes are known as ‘Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes’. You can check whether the hedgerow is in a Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship agreement scheme on the Defra MAGIC website.

If you have concerns about the activity someone is undertaking on a hedgerow in a CAP scheme, report it to Rural Payments Agency on 03000 200 301 or email

You can report a removed hedgerow via the planning compliance page.

The offence needs to have been undertaken within the last three years. The hedgerow therefore has to be present and visible on a date stamped aerial map or similar, within the last 3 years.

Please be aware that some hedgerows are periodically managed in a brutal way using tractor mounted flail or cutting equipment, cutting the hedge down to short stumps, labelled as ‘coppicing’. This is not an offence. An offence is to intentionally or recklessly remove, cause or permit the removal of a hedgerow i.e. grubs out.

To report a suspected offence, South Cambs require the following:

  • Confirmation the CAP status has been checked
  • When the works were undertaken including a month and year
  • The exact location on a plan or map
  • Photographs of the current location
  • The approximate length removed
  • What remains in that location now. For example: nothing or stumps etc.
  • Why you believe the hedgerow is an ‘important hedgerow’ under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997

Garden hedgerows vary in style from well maintained boundaries to outgrown rows of trees.

You will need to notify us if you are removing an unmaintained hedge in the conservation area if the stems are greater than 75 millimetres diameter at 1.5 meters above ground level (measured over the bark). Notifications can be submitted to us via the Planning Portal.

You do not need permission to remove or trim a well maintained residential garden hedgerow either in the conservation area or out of the conservation area.

Beware! If you are replacing your hedge for a fence or wall, you may need planning permission. Please seek the advice of a planning duty officer.

Occasionally an outgrown hedgerow may be subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Please go to our TPO page.

Hedgerows are not eligible for a TPO. Trees within a hedgerow can be protected with a TPO if eligible. Please see our Tree Preservation Orders webpage.

To find an accredited hedgelayer, please use the search function on the National Hedgelaying Society website.

For free guides on identifying common hedgerow plants, along with lots of other wildlife try OPAL.

For more information on hedgerow management try The English Hedgerow Trust or Hedgelink.

For more information on fruitful hedgerows, foraging and the hedgerow harvest try The Tree Council.

If you witness a wildlife crime taking place, call 999.

For a non-emergency, call 101. If you would like to give information regarding a crime anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Trees can be subject to protection through the conservation area or tree preservation order.