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

GAEC 6: Maintenance of soil organic matter level through appropriate practices, including a ban on burning arable stubble, except for plant health reasons

You must maintain your soil organic matter through appropriate practices. Burning of arable stubble is not allowed except for plant health reasons.

What you must do

You must:

Crop Residues (Burning) Regulations 1993

To meet these you must not burn:

  • cereal straw
  • cereal stubble
  • residues of oilseed rape
  • residues of field beans harvested dry
  • residues of peas harvested dry.

You must also meet the rules set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations if you burn linseed residues.

Burning is allowed for plant health reasons where a notice is served under the Plant Health (England) Order 2005.

Heather and Grass Burning Regulations (2007)

To meet these you must:

  • not burn heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium outside the burning season. The burning season is from 1 October to 15 April for uplands, and from 1 November to 31 March for other land
  • have enough people and equipment to control burning
  • take all reasonable precautions not to injure or damage any neighboring land, or any person or thing on it.

Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (EIA) (2006)

To meet these you must:

  • not carry out projects on uncultivated land when thresholds or screening notices apply
  • not begin or carry out a project on uncultivated land without permission from Natural England
  • not breach a stop notice
  • meet a remediation notice.

For forestry you must:

  • not carry out afforestation on agricultural land or deforestation projects on existing woodland unless you have permission from the Forestry Commission (FC)
  • comply with enforcement notices to stop work
  • meet consent and enforcement notices given by the FC.

Other guidance

There is more guidance online – search for ‘Cross compliance: soil protection standards’ at This guidance is also available on paper from the RPA.


Rural Payments Agency: 0345 603 7777
Natural England: 0345 600 3078

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