Cross Compliance: Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2015 (GCCE 2015 v1)

GAEC 7a: Boundaries


(Previously GAECs 13, 14 and 15)

You must protect boundary features, such as hedgerows, stone walls, earth banks and stone banks because they’re important landscape features.

What you must do

A. Hedgerows

The rules on hedgerows apply to any hedge growing in, or adjacent to, any land which forms part of your holding and which has:

  • a continuous length of at least 20 metres, or is part of any such length, or
  • a continuous length of less than 20 metres where it meets (at an intersection or junction) another hedgerow at each end.

Any gap of 20 metres or less and any gap resulting from a breach of the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 will be treated as part of the hedgerow.

You must:

  • take all reasonable steps to keep a green cover on land within 2 metres of the centre of a hedgerow.

You must not:

  • cultivate or apply fertilisers or pesticides to land within 2 metres of the centre of a hedgerow. Fertilisers include: inorganic and organic fertiliser, organic manures, lime, slurry, sewage sludge, slag, trace elements, calcified seaweed and human waste (not an exhaustive list).

Pesticides mean anything used for destroying pests and include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and other biocides.

You won’t break these rules if you’ve used pesticides for spot application, or you’ve cultivated land for one of these reasons:

  • to establish a green cover where one doesn’t exist and the land is part of a field which is being newly created (whether by merger or division)
  • to establish a green cover where one doesn’t exist and the land was previously outside the scope of cross compliance.

These rules do not apply:

  • to land either side of a hedgerow which is less than 5 years old (you’ll need to keep documentary evidence to prove this)
  • to land forming part of a parcel of 2 hectares or less, as measured within permanent boundary features
  • to land on the side of any hedgerow which is facing away from a dwelling where the hedgerow marks a boundary of the curtilage of the dwelling
  • to the casting up of a traditional hedgebank between 1 September and the last day of February (inclusive).

Cutting, trimming and removal

You must not cut or trim a hedgerow between 1 March and 31 August (inclusive) unless:

  • the hedgerow overhangs a highway, road or footpath over which there is a public or private right of way and the overhanging hedgerow obstructs the passage of, or is a danger to, vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders
  • the hedgerow is dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted and because of its condition, it or part of it, is likely to cause danger by falling on to a highway, road or footpath; or obstructs the view of drivers or the light from a public lamp
  • it is to carry out hedge-laying or coppicing during the period 1 March to 30 April (inclusive)
  • it is to trim a newly laid hedgerow by hand, within 6 months of it being laid
  • you have received written permission from the Secretary of State for the Environment to cut or trim during the month of August for the purposes of sowing oil seed rape or temporary grassland during the same August.

You must not remove all or part of a hedgerow unless you have told your local authority (or National Park Authority if your land is in a National Park) in writing of your proposal, and have:

  • received written permission to carry out the removal; or
  • have received no reply from the authority within 42 days of your notification.

The removal must be carried out in accordance with the proposal specified in the hedgerow removal notice and the hedgerow must be removed within the period of 2 years from the date on the hedgerow removal notice.

The cutting, trimming and removal rules do not apply:

  • to hedgerows within the curtilage of a dwelling-house
  • to the side of any hedgerow facing a dwelling-house when the hedgerow marks the boundary of the curtilage of the dwelling-house.

B. Stone Walls, Earth Banks and Stone Banks

Rules for stone walls, earth banks and stone banks apply if:

  • it has a continuous length of at least 10 metres; or
  • it has a continuous length of less than 10 metres which meets another boundary at each end; or
  • it has a continuous length of less than 10 metres which forms an enclosure

An earth bank is a mound without a hedgerow, distinct from the surrounding land form.

A stone bank is an earth bank faced with natural stone.

You must not:

  • remove existing stone walls, earth banks and stone banks
  • remove earth or stone from an existing stone wall, stone bank or earth bank.

The rules in section B don’t apply if you:

  • widen an existing gateway in a stone wall, earth bank or stone bank to allow machinery or livestock access. The gateway should be no wider than 10 metres and the newly created ends finished to a vertical face
  • repair another stone wall, earth bank or stone bank on your holding which is in a better condition than the one you remove the stone or earth from
  • have written permission from the Secretary of State to do so, in order to enhance the environment, improve public or agricultural access, or for reasons relating to livestock or crop production.

Other guidance

You should read the ‘Hedgerows Regulations 1997: A Guide to the Law and Good Practice’. To get a free copy email: farmland.conservation@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

More information

There is also more guidance online about ‘Countryside hedgerows: regulation and management’.

Contact RPA for information about hedgerow derogations which may be available.

Contact

Natural England: 0345 600 3078
Rural Payments Agency: 0345 603 7777
Defra helpline: 0345 933 5577

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