19 September 2014
Image: Steve Round
According to the best practice guidelines set out by the RSPB, hedges should never be cut during the nesting season of March to August (following a mild winter from February onwards).
Hedge trimming is best left until the end of the winter to leave the larder of fruits and nuts for wildlife. If it is not possible to carry out the trimming at this time, it can be brought forward as necessary. The most important consideration is to avoid trimming during the breeding season.
Unfortunately, there is no legislation to enforce these best practice guidelines. However, the guidelines are agreed by conservation groups and agriculture departments. Constraints on hedgerow management have been set out in the legally defined Codes of Good Farming Practice, which applies to all farmers participating in an agri-environment scheme or who are in receipt of Less Favoured Area payments.
Under these guidelines hedgerow trimming is not permitted between 1 March and 31 July in England and Scotland and 1 March and 31 August in Wales and Northern Ireland.