Farmers reminded hedgecutting window shuts on 1 March

Farmers are being reminded not to accidentally fall foul of the closed period for hedgecutting, which takes effect from this weekend.

Under cross-compliance rules – which still apply despite the UK having left the EU – hedgecutting is banned from 1 March through to 1 September to protect bird life.

Failure to comply could result in a Basic Payment Scheme penalty.

See also: Guide to 2020 cross-compliance dates

Ian Rickman, deputy president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, said most farmers were aware of the rules, but he wanted to make sure they did not fall foul by accident.

Exemptions

“There are exceptions to the standard rule, but only if the conditions are met can you start cutting early or late,” he said.

Exemptions include the cutting of hedgerows or trees that overhang a road or footpath to which the public have access, or where the work is necessary because the overhanging vegetation causes an obstruction.

Growers may also be eligible to apply for a derogation which enables them to trim hedges from 1 August if planting an early-sown crop such as oilseed rape.

However, the rules do differ slightly between the devolved regions, so should be checked carefully.

For example, in England farmers are allowed to carry out hedge laying and coppicing from 1 March to 30 April.

But in Wales farmers can only carry out hedge laying and coppicing during the month of March.

Mr Rickman reminded farmers that, for safety reasons, electricity and telephone companies are responsible for the maintenance of any overhanging trees and/or hedges that affect their equipment.

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