Hedge cutting and cross-compliance rules reminder

Hedges are an important part of the Northern Ireland landscape and are an important habitat for birds, wildlife and pollinators as well as acting as field boundaries and providing shelter for livestock.

Cross-compliance rules are in place to protect this habitat and landscape feature, and particularly to protect birds nesting in hedges by preventing the cutting of hedges between 1 March - 31 August.

The Wildlife and Natural Environment (NI) Act 2011, also protects nesting birds and it is an offence under this legislation to disturb nesting birds, their chicks, nests or eggs at any time of the year.
In addition to hedge cutting, 1 March – 31 August closed period also applies to tree or scrub cutting and the coppicing of hedges.

It should also be noted that hedgerow trees with a trunk diameter greater than 100cm, may only be removed with prior permission from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). Permission is also required for the removal of hedges.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union would remind farmers to comply with these rules to ensure that payments from the various schemes administered by DAERA, are protected.

Breaches of these rules could result in cross-compliance penalties being applied.
There are some exceptions to the hedge cutting closed period.

Hedge cutting is permitted within the closed period where health and safety is an issue e.g. along some roadside hedges or if there is an animal welfare reason.