Removal of trees and hedges on private property
To remove trees and hedgerows from your property it is sometimes necessary to seek permission from us. Instructions on how and when to do so are explained below. For further information, please contact us.
When do I need permission to remove all or part of a hedge?
You will need to seek permission to remove all or part of a hedge if it is on or runs alongside:
- Agricultural land
- Common land, including town or village greens
- Land used for forestry or the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys
- A local nature reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest
Who can seek permission to remove a hedge?
Only certain people may ask for permission to remove a hedge:
- The landowner
- An agricultural tenant
- A farm business tenant
- Certain utility companies (such as gas)
When is permission not needed?
If your hedge:
- Is shorter than 20 metres (unless both ends join up with other hedges or it is part of a longer hedgerow)
- Is in, or borders your garden
- Gaps of 20 metres or less are counted as part of the hedgerow. A gap may be a break in the vegetation or it may be filled by, for example, a gate.
You also do not need to seek permission:
- To get access – either in place of an existing opening (provided that you plant a new stretch of hedgerow to fill the original entrance) or when another means of entry is not available (except at disproportionate cost)
- To gain temporary entry to help in an emergency
- To comply with a statutory plant or forestry health order
- To comply with a statutory notice for preventing interference with electrical lines and apparatus
- In connection with statutory drainage or flood defence work
- To implement a planning permission (in the case of permitted development rights, most hedges will require prior permission)
- There are further exceptions for reasons of national defence and for removal by the Highways Agency.
Normal management of your hedgerow does not require prior planning permission.
Does removing a hedge mean just grubbing it up?
No. Removal also includes other actions that result in the hedge being destroyed.
Coppicing, laying and the removal of dead or diseased shrubs or trees are treated as normal management.
How do I ask for permission to remove a hedge?
You must submit a Hedgerow Removal Notice to us. There is no charge for this.
You can apply online via the Planning Portal website or download, complete and return the Hedgerow removal notice application form (PDF 67KB).
What happens after we have received the notice?
The site will be visited to see if the hedge is deemed "important", and we may have to enter your land. To be important, the hedge must be:
- At least 30 years old
- Meet at least one of the eight set criteria
- The criteria identify hedges of particular archaeological, historical, wildlife of landscape value. We must also consult local town or parish councils.
What happens if the hedge is not 'important'?
We cannot refuse you permission to remove the hedge unless it is deemed 'important'. We should write to say that the hedge can be removed. This permission does not override any requirements to notify or obtain consent under other legislation, or any contractual obligations.
How long does a permission last?
Two years from either the date of our written permission or the ending of the six-week period. The permission is for the work set out in your proposal and no more. You must seek fresh permission for anything else.
What happens if the hedge is 'important'?
We will decide if the circumstances justify removal of an important hedge. The strong presumption is that important hedges will be protected. Unless satisfied that the removal is justified, we must refuse permission. We will write to say that removal of the hedge is prohibited by sending a Hedgerow Retention Notice.
What if I hear nothing from you?
You can remove the hedge if you have not received a decision six weeks after we received your Hedgerow Removal Notice, unless you have agreed a longer timescale.
How long does a Hedgerow Retention Notice last?
A Hedgerow Retention Notice is permanent. However, if circumstances change you may submit a fresh removal notice.
What if we refuse permission - can I challenge a Hedgerow Retention Notice?
Yes. You can appeal to the Secretary of State in writing within 28 days of being given our decision. The Hedgerow Retention Notice will give details of how to do this.
What if I remove a hedge without asking for permission?
It is a criminal offence to deliberately remove a hedge without permission. If you are found guilty by a magistrates' court you could face a fine of up to £5,000. If tried in crown court the fine is unlimited.
Do I have to replace a hedge if I remove it without permission?
We may insist that you replace the hedge and we have legal powers to ensure this happens. The replacement hedge is automatically 'important' for 30 years after it has been planted.