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Hedge removal laws and regulations

Removing a hedge lawfullyIs it against the law to remove hedges?

If you have a hedge that is preventing the sun from reaching your garden, is taking over your garden or has roots that are damaging your patio or home it may be tempting to just remove it. However, if you are unhappy with a hedge in your garden, you will need to consider the hedge removal law before taking any action.

The hedge may be protected by any of the following laws, and you may face criminal charges:

  • The Hedgerow Regulations 1997
  • Boundary hedge removal law
  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981

Read on for further information into the hedgerow removal law, boundary hedge removal law, the Hedgerow Regulations of 1997 and more.

What are the Hedgerows Regulations 1997?

In June 1997, government legislation came into effect protecting hedgerows from unlawful removal. The Hedgerows Regulations 1997 covers protected hedges and means that without the correct permissions, their removal is a criminal offence.

For further information about the criteria that makes a hedge protected please click here. Or, look further into The Hedgerows Regulations 1997.

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Boundary hedge removalWhat is the garden hedge removal law?

Garden hedge removal law dictates when you can and can’t remove a hedge on your property.

When the hedge in question forms a boundary between your garden and neighbours’ gardens, you will also need to come to an agreement before removing it. What’s more, it’s illegal to remove a hedge that is home to nesting birds or is protected by a tree preservation order.

Protected hedgerow removal law

As we mentioned above, certain hedges are protected and cannot be removed without permission. The protected hedgerow removal law states that any hedges that are a certain length, in a specific location, or are considered important cannot be removed without approval.

For example, hedges that are over 20m, next to village greens and of a certain age will be protected. To learn about all the different criteria for protected hedges, please visit this gov.uk page. Hedges can only be removed if you own the hedge and it’s less than 30 years old, although this may need to be approved by your local planning authority.

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Boundary hedge removal law

When a hedge sits along the boundary between two properties, both landowners will need to be in agreement before the hedge is removed. Firstly, you will need to check your title deeds to see exactly where the property line is. If the hedge is on your side of the boundary line, you are within your rights to remove the hedge (providing no other legalities stand in your way).

Boundary hedge removal law will come into effect if your remove a hedge that is either on your neighbour’s land or between the two properties and you do not have your neighbour’s permission. While you are allowed to maintain the hedge on your side, removing it is illegal.

If you do remove a boundary hedge without permission, your neighbour may choose to take you to court. If you lose, you will be expected to replant the hedge and also pay legal fees.

Removing countryside hedgerows

Not only are garden hedges protected, but countryside hedges also fall under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997. This means removing countryside hedgerows without the proper approval may be classed as a criminal act. Farmers are also not permitted to trim hedges from March 1st to August 31st.

If you are in any doubt about how to proceed, it’s always worth applying to your local planning authority before removing countryside hedgerows.

Having trouble with a hedge?

If your garden is affected by a nuisance hedge, a good solution may be professional hedge trimming. This can reduce its height and allow the sun to reach your garden while also improving the appearance of the hedge. If you need a hedge trimmed, our free search feature will connect you with vetted professionals in your area.

Top tip: Always ensure no birds are nesting in your hedge before proceeding and check you are within your rights to trim the hedge legally.

Wondering how much professional hedge trimming costs? Generally, you can expect to pay an average of £90 per hour. It will usually take from one to three hours depending on the size of your hedge and its accessibility. For more costs and guidance, please see our hedge trimming cost guide.

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