UK famers reminded of March 1 hedge-cutting ban

Farmers and crofters across the UK are reminded that the hedge-cutting ban comes into place on March 1 as the bird nesting and rearing season begins.

From March 1 until August 31, a closed period comes into force that places a ban on cutting and trimming hedges and trees due to cross-compliance requirements.

Exemptions

A hedge or tree may be trimmed from August 1 if the hedge or tree is in a field which will be sown with oilseed rape, temporary grass or another crop subject to prior written consent, where the hedge or tree is adjacent to the field being sown.

The only other exception to this rule is for road safety where a hedge or tree overhangs a road, surfaced track or a footpath which may obstruct or interfere with the passage or view of vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders, or the obstruction of light from a public lamp.

Before undertaking trimming in August under this exemption, farmers and crofters must check the full length of the hedge for nesting birds. If active nests are found, trimming must be delayed until all birds have fledged.

Willie Thomson, NFU Scotland combinable crops chairman, reminded farmers: “The hedge-cutting ban is yet another example of where farmers and crofters are leading the way in protecting and encouraging wildlife within the countryside.

“Farmers and crofters have always been custodians of the countryside and by enabling nesting birds the sanctuary of Scottish hedgerows, farmers and crofters are once again actively encouraging a wide variety of habitats for a number of species.

NFU Scotland is keen to establish a system going forward which allows farmers to get on with the day job of feeding the nation, whilst still delivering on environmental outcomes.

“At present, the rulebook has not been thrown out of the window and farmers and crofters must still comply with current rules on cross-compliance, mapping, greening and Single Application Form (SAF) procedures.

“Alongside these requirements, compliance inspections will continue in 2020 as they did in 2019.”