Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Countryside hedgerows to be given legal protection to care for wildlife

Hedgerows will be protected in law as the government sets out its plans for domestic hedgerow regulations, following a consultation last year.

Backed by over 95% of consultation responses, and providing continuity for farmers and land managers, the regulations will include a two-metre ‘buffer strip’ from the centre of hedgerows with no cultivation or application of pesticides or fertilisers, and a hedge cutting ban between 1 March and 31 August to protect nesting birds.

A fairer, more proportionate enforcement approach focused on outcomes will see farmers provided with advice to help them comply with requirements – very different from the approach seen previously.

The regulations will support the efforts of many farmers already carrying out vital work to protect hedgerows, providing important ecological benefits including wildlife habitats, slowing soil erosion and water run-off, supporting crop pollinators and absorbing carbon.

This includes over 90,000km of hedgerows being managed through 16,000 agreements in the government’s Countryside Stewardship and Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes, and more than 13,000km of hedgerows created or restored using Countryside Stewardship grants.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:”Farmers have been protecting, planting and maintaining our hedgerows for centuries and I want to thank them for their continued efforts to help wildlife thrive on their farms alongside food production.

“I am delighted that thousands of farmers are taking up the support and guidance on offer in our Countryside Stewardship and Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes.”

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