It is the responsibility of an owner or occupier of private land or property to ensure that frontage hedges, or other vegetation, do not overhang or protrude onto the highway or footpath and restrict passage of pedestrians or vehicles.

Hedges should be cut back to the boundary, or vertically above the rear of a footpath to a height of 2.2m.


Many countryside hedgerows are protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. The Hedgerow Regulations were introduced to help address the widespread loss of countryside hedgerows that had occurred due to intensification of farming methods. The regulations introduced new arrangements for local planning authorities in England and Wales to protect important hedgerows in the countryside, by controlling their removal through a system of notification. It is unlawful to remove or destroy certain hedgerows without the written permission of your local planning authority.

Important hedgerows are those that:

  • mark the boundary of a historic parish or township existing before 1850
  • contain or are within an archaeological feature which is on the Sites and Monuments Record, or a pre 1600 manor or estate
  • are part of or are associated with a field system predating the Enclosure Acts
  • contain species in part one of Schedule 5; or Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; or defined in Schedule 3 of the regulations plus at least 2 associated features
  • include one or more of the following: at least 7 woody species, at least 6 woody species plus at least 3 Associated Features, at least 6 woody species including a black poplar; large-leaved lime, small-leaved lime or wild service tree, at least 5 woody species and at least 4 associated features

Hedgerows that are covered by the regulations

Hedgerows on or adjacent to the following:

  • common land
  • village greens
  • sites of scientific special interest
  • local nature reserves
  • land used for agriculture, forestry or for the breeding or keeping of horses, ponies or donkeys

The regulations do not apply to garden hedges (which are defined as hedgerows within or marking the boundary of the curtilage of a dwelling house).

Removing a hedgerow 

Any landowner who wishes to remove a hedgerow must serve a Hedgerow Removal Notice in writing. We then have 42 days to determine whether or not the hedge is considered 'important' under the regulations, and if so, whether or not to issue a retention notice, even if the hedgerow counts as important.

Make an application

Apply and make payment online to get permission to remove a hedge.

Alternatively you can download and print our paper version of the application.

High hedges

If you're involved in a dispute with another resident over a high hedge, you must first try and resolve the issue between you. Try talking or writing to the person responsible for the hedge, or using a mediation service.

If you have tried all methods to resolve the dispute you can complain to the council. To complain, you must have evidence to show you have tried to address the problem in the last 6 months and has failed. This could include records of letters, conversations and mediation. The council may decline to investigate a complaint if they feel you have not taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter.

The high hedges act

We may take action against the owner of a property where such a high hedge is growing that the hedge forms a barrier to light or access. Meaning the owner or occupier of a neighbouring property has his reasonable enjoyment of that property adversely affected. Formal action by the council could require the owner of the hedge to reduce its height to a maximum of 2 metres. However we could not instruct that the hedge be completely removed.

Please note: you will have to pay a fee of £450 to make a complaint

For general advice, contact us and see:

Contact us

Tree and Environment Team for North Dorset, West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland

Tel: 01258 484248
Full contact details

Tree and Environment Team for Purbeck

Name: Jenny Key
Tel: 01929 557344
Full contact details

Tree and Environment Team for East Dorset

Tel: 01202 228820
Full contact details