Hedgerows

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th February 1983.

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Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North 12:00 am, 17th February 1983

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the preservation of hedgerows.

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Rochester and Chatham

The Government are sympathetic to the need to retain hedgerows wherever possible and are pleased that the rate of removal of hedgerows has declined substantially since the 1960s and early 1970s. We favour a positive approach of encouragement to the farming community, and this is reflected both in the advice given by my Agricultural Development and Advisory Service and in the provision of grant-aid for hedge planting and reconditioning.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North

Will the Minister confirm that, in the large numbers of Inclosure Acts that went through the House over the past 300 years, one of the essential conditions for inclosure of common land was the provision in perpetuity of hedgerows? Will the Minister further confirm that over many years Government grants have been given to farmers to tear up those hedgerows, clearly in breach of the law? Will the Government enforce the law and introduce positive proposals to maintain hedgerows in this country?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Rochester and Chatham

I understand from the Department of the Environment that the general Inclosure Acts do not specify that field boundaries must be maintained in perpetuity. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has already replied to various questions on the subject and I cannot accept responsibility for the period of time to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the best ways to preserve hedgerows is to support British field sports, all of whose supporters are the greatest conservationists?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Rochester and Chatham

I can only add to that that we grant-aid for replacement and reconditioning of hedges.