Farmers have been reminded to ensure they follow the rules with their hedgecutting and trimming at this time of year to avoid the risk of breaking Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) agreements.
Between 1 March and 31 August, hedgecutting and trimming is not allowed, especially since this is the main bird breeding season.
There are exemptions, such as when the hedge overhangs a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way.
And when the overhanging hedge obstructs the passage of, or is a danger to, vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders, or obstructs the view of drivers or the light from a public lamp.
Not following the rules would be in breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), and for those farmers claiming BPS, they might not be complying with the rules that have to be followed.
Farmers Weekly has received a number of reports from the public over the past month of hedges being cut and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has urged farmers to be aware of the rules if planning any hedgecutting.
CLA North adviser Jane Harrison said: “It is on the odd occasion visually evident that some farmers and land owners flout the general rules around cutting their hedges. The only exception to the rule is when it is justifiable necessary to undertake hedgecutting for practical reasons around safety and public amenity.”
Derogations on hedge-trimming or cutting during August can be obtained from the Rural Payments Agency.
Extra care should always be taken to avoid the disturbance of nests in hedges, eggs and young chicks.