Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED February 3, 2003

The removal of 100 metres or all of a hedgerow could be permitted under reg.6(1)(j) Hedgerows Regulations 1997 for the proper management of that hedgerow.Appeal by way of case stated by Conwy County Borough Council ('the Council') against the decision of Denbigh Magistrates Court on 2 April 2003 that the removal of 100 metres of hedgerow by the defendant ('L') was permitted for the proper management of the hedgerow under reg.6(1)(j) Hedgerows Regulations 1997 SI 1997/1160. L had served a notice on the council of his intention to remove the hedgerow but had not waited for the council's response before removing it. The regulations placed no statutory obligation on a landowner to serve such a notice but where no notice was served there was a risk of prosecution subject to reg.6(1)(j). The magistrates accepted the evidence of L and his expert that the hedgerow was unmanageable, there was risk of collapse and it was a hazard to livestock and machinery. The council argued that: (i) given the preservation and conservation objectives of the Regulations, the removal of 100 metres of a hedgerow or its complete removal could never be permitted for the proper management of it within reg.6(1)(j); (ii) the magistrates had confused their role with the council's in considering the circumstances which might justify the removal of the hedge; (iii) the conclusion that reg.6(1)(j) could apply in the present case where the council had had no opportunity to inspect the hedgerow gave a carte blanche for landowners to circumvent the purpose of the legislation; and (v) the decision was perverse.HELD: (1) The wording of reg.6(1)(j) was not in any way ambiguous. It accepted the possibility that the removal of all of a hedgerow might be necessary for the proper management of it. (2) The issue for the magistrates was whether total removal was required for the proper management of the hedgerow. It was a matter for them and, in the light of the evidence, they were so satisfied. (3) Neither the Regulations nor the present judgment gave landowners a carte blanche to circumvent the legislation. The Regulations contemplated the removal of a hedgerow without notice and only in certain cases would expert evidence be accepted. (4) The decision was not perverse.Appeal dismissed.