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Protected hedgerows

Hedgerows are distinctive features of our countryside. They make a positive contribution to the character and biodiversity of the landscape. It is against the law to remove or destroy most countryside hedgerows without prior permission from the council.

The Hedgerow Regulations 1997 make it illegal to remove or destroy most countryside hedgerows (or parts of them) without our permission. The regulations apply to countryside hedgerows which are at least 20 metres or more long, or which meet another hedgerow at each end. All these hedgerows must be on, or adjoining land used for:

  • agriculture
  • forestry
  • the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys
  • common land
  • village greens
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • Local Nature Reserves

Garden hedges or hedges that form the boundary of a dwelling house are not covered by these regulations.

Getting permission to remove of a countryside hedgerow

If you want to remove a hedgerow you must notify us by submitting a Hedgerow Removal Notice. You can either submit the notice through the Planning Portal  or by downloading a planning application form. Completed application forms must be submitted to your local area planning office. Please note, any application not made on the standard form, is incomplete, or fails to include the required information, will be invalid.

Once you submit a Hedgerow Removal Notice, we will assess the importance of the hedgerow using criteria set out in the regulations.

  • 'important' hedgerows: the hedgerow must be at least 30 years old, and meet at least one of the eight set criteria set out in Part II of schedule I of the regulations. These identify hedgerows of particular archaeological, historical, wildlife or landscape value. If the hedgerow is 'important' we will decide if the circumstances justify its removal, but there is a strong presumption to protect hedgerows that meet this criteria. We may create a 'hedgerow retention notice' which will prohibit the removal or destruction of the hedgerow.
  • If the hedgerow doesn't to meet the 'important' criteria, we will write to you giving permission to remove it. This permission will not override any requirements to notify or obtain consent under other legislation, or any contractual obligations, or any conditions attached to the permission.

Removing a countryside hedgerow without permission

It is a criminal offence to deliberately remove a hedgerow without permission, which if found guilty in a Magistrates Court could result in a fine of up to £5,000 or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court. We will also require you to plant another hedge in the same place, which will automatically become 'important' for 30 years after it is planted.


We are currently running a limited service but will respond to emergency and essential work where it is possible and safe to do so. There will be delays in responding to non-emergency and non-essential works.

High hedges

Recent legislation, under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, has given us the power to deal with complaints relating to High hedges which are evergreen or semi-evergreen and more than two metres in height.


Contact us
03000 262 830
Our address is:
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UL
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