21 July 1995

Lords say Bill means even more red tape

By Liz Mason

PEERS fear the governments Environment Bill will create more bureaucracy for farmers.

The Environment Bill, which will make it an offence to remove an important hedgerow without local authority permission, was questioned in the House of Lords last week.

Lord Stanley of Alderley said he was "concerned that yet another bureaucratic regulation would be imposed on farmers". He said he would like to know what was a hedgerow and whether that would be clearly spelt out in the rules.

Replying for the government, environment minister Earl Ferrers said it was important that there was not "too much bureaucracy in the countryside". But there were occasions when it was necessary to try to protect important hedgerows.

"Research is in hand to try to investigate what should properly be regarded as an important hedgerow and to establish a system for assessing their quality."

He added that the government intended to focus protection on hedgerows of particular historic interest or those which made a particularly valuable contribution to the wildlife of an area.

"The kind of hedgerows we have in mind are those which are long-standing and which form part of the natural countryside," said Earl Ferrers. &#42