Some hedges within the borough are protected under the Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Scheme or the Hedgerow Regulations.
The removal of hedgerow within the garden of a house does not need consent under the Hedgerow Regulations. However, you do need consent to remove a hedgerow, or part, in some areas of Welwyn Garden City under the Estate Management Scheme.
The Regulations apply to any hedgerow growing in, or adjacent to:
any common land,
protected land (a nature reserve or similar),
land used for agriculture or forestry, or
the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys;
where the hedgerow has a continuous length of or exceeding 20 metres or if less than 20 metres meets or intersects with another hedgerow.
However, even if the hedgerow is covered by the above some works are permitted. These are:
making a new opening in substitution for an existing opening onto land;
obtaining temporary access in an emergency;
obtaining access where another means of access is not available or is available at disproportionate cost;
the carrying out of development for which planning permission has been granted;
the carrying out of flood defence or land drainage;
ensuring the eradication of any plant or tree pest;
the carrying out of highway works by the Secretary Of State;
the felling, lopping or cutting back as required under the Electricity Act 1989;
the proper management of a hedgerow.
To apply to remove a hedgerow the owner should complete an Application for Hedgerow Removal Notice and returns this to us. The council should, unless agreed with the applicant, make a decision within 42 days. Any consent must be implemented within 2 years and must accord with the notice. Or the council can issue a "hedgerow retention notice" which stops removal of all or part of the hedgerow.
Before making a decision the council considers whether the hedgerow is Important. An important hedgerow should have existed for more than 30 years and satisfy one of a number of criteria.
A person who removes an important hedgerow in contravention of the Regulations is guilty of an offence, which on conviction is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000. Plus local authority can require the reinstatement of the hedgerow by giving notice of the species and shrubs to be used. There is a right of appeal against a hedgerow retention notice or a notice requiring replacement.