As the UK replaces the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) with agri-environment schemes, rural businesses will also be moving away from cross-compliance regulation. The new proposals relate to a variety of topics, including the maintenance and protection of hedgerows on agricultural land.
The CLA is responding to a Defra consultation which looks at what the future of hedgerow regulation and protection should look like, and we are seeking your views on the questions below to help shape and inform our response.
We encourage CLA members to provide as many supporting examples and evidence as you can in your answers.
Questions for CLA members:
- 1) Should we:
a) Maintain current cross-compliance requirements for buffer strips that are 2m from the centre of the hedgerow? OR
b) Should the buffer strips be 1.2m from the centre of the hedgerow to reflect the Countryside Stewardship (CS) rules?
Please explain your answer.
- 2) If the 2m buffer strip requirement is maintained, should the exemption for hedgerows under five years old be replicated?
- 3) Do you support the no-cutting period from 1 March to 31 August? Why or why not?
- 4) Do you support the existing exemptions to the no cutting period? (exemptions listed at the bottom of this page) Why or why not?
- 5) Are there any exemptions missing? If yes, what exemptions would you like to see and why?
- 6) Have you experienced any issues when applying for an exemption? If yes, please describe the issue and the end result.
- 7) Are there any activities that are not covered by Countryside Stewardship (CS) and the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) that would enable landowners to protect and maintain hedgerows?
- 8) Should stop notices be introduced to prevent harmful activities to hedgerows? If no, what alternative approaches do you recommend?
A response from members is important, so please email your answers and point of view to CLA Senior Environment Policy Adviser Sara Brouillette at email@example.com, by 5 September.
Hedgerow regulation exemptions
The consultation proposes replicating the following exemptions:
- Landowners can apply to cut or trim hedgerows for the purposes of sowing oilseed rape or temporary grassland during the month of August.
- Landowner must apply for an exemption from the appropriate regulator when seeking approval.
- Landowners are exempt from keeping green cover on land within two metres of the centre of a hedgerow if the land parcel is two hectares or less, or if a hedgerow is less than five years old.
The consultation proposes the following additional exemption:
- An exemption to the regulations for farms under five hectares, to mirror the BPS eligible land. Providing this additional exemption would reduce the number of farmers who would need to meet these requirements who do not already have to do so.