Farmers: Hedges and Ditches

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of extending the period during which farmers are permitted to cut hedges; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hedge-cutting ban protects farmland birds during the important nesting and rearing period. In England the bird breeding and rearing season is primarily March to August inclusive. The evidence for this comes from the British Trust for Ornithology’s Nest Record Scheme and shows that farmland birds such as the Blackbird, Common Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Bullfinch and Yellowhammer rear and have late broods during August – not only the Wood Pigeon as some have suggested. We have discussed the impact of the non-cutting period with agricultural and environmental organisations and introduced a derogation that enables hedges to be cut in a field during August if oil seed rape or temporary grass is sown in that field. We continue to allow hedges to be cut during six months of each year.

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No2 people think not

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