“• the hedgerow overhangs a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way and the overhanging hedgerow obstructs the passage of, or is a danger to, vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders”
Did you know it is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally damage or destroy the nests of wild birds? This includes the trimming and cutting of hedges and hedgerow when you know wild birds are nesting.
The RSPB recommend that hedges are not cut between March and August to allow for both first and second fledglings to fly the nest.
There has recently been some discussion relating to hedgerows bordering the Town’s allotment site and the need to cut these hedges. This matter is being investigated and the hedges will be cut as soon as possible.
Every care will be taken to respect the wildlife, maintain the integrity of the allotment sites and tidy the hedges.
Hedges, the Law, rules and regulations
Can I trim, cut, lay or coppice a hedge at any time of year?
All wild birds are protected. This includes their nests (whilst in use or being built) as well as any eggs the nest may contain. Under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), it is an offence to:
1. intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird;1
2. intentionally damage, destroy or take the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or
being built (nests of golden eagle, white tailed eagle and osprey are protected all
3. intentionally destroy an egg of any wild bird;
4. intentionally or recklessly disturb certain wild birds2 or their dependent young while
they are nesting (including disturbance of nesting young);
Although within the WCA no dates are legally stated between which hedges cannot be trimmed, cut, laid or coppiced, the main bird breeding season is recognised as being between 1 March and 31 July.
Therefore the risk of committing any of the above offences is increased between these dates. It is recommended that if you undertake any work within these dates you should check the hedge for any signs of breeding activity first (such as observation from a distance using binoculars and direct searching of the hedge for nests).
If you suspect an offence is/has been committed in relation to wild birds then contact your local Police Force and report the incident to them. Ask for the case to be investigated by a Wildlife Crime Officer (WCO) if possible and ask for an incident number so you can go back to them if needed. If the offence is on-going report it to the Police on the 999 system.
1 Any bird shown to have been bred in captivity is not classed as a ‘wild bird’ unless it has been lawfully released into the wild as part of a repopulation or reintroduction programme.
2 The list of wild birds that you must not disturb while nesting is contained in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
If you are entered in to the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), GAEC 15 states that you must not cut or trim any hedgerow on your farm between 1 March and 31 July (inclusive) – the main breeding season for birds – each year unless such work is necessary because any of the following apply:
• the hedgerow overhangs a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way and the overhanging hedgerow obstructs the passage of, or is a danger to, vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders;
• the hedgerow is dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted and is likely to cause danger by falling on to a highway, road or footpath; or obstructs the view of drivers or the light from a public lamp;
• to carry out hedge-laying or coppicing during the period 1 March to 30 April (inclusive);
• to trim a newly laid hedgerow by hand, within 6 months of it being laid;
If you wish to undertake works within the dates stated above, and which are not listed above, you must apply to the RPA in writing for an exemption and wait for written permission before carrying out any work. Contact the RPA on 0845 603 7777 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org