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Changes to Hedge Trimming Regulations Welcomed by Union

NFU Scotland has welcomed an amendment to the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) rule to allow for hedge cutting to take place prior to the sowing of oilseed rape and grass during the month of August.

The Union has continuously asked the Scottish Government to consider this amendment which will prevent valuable crops from being damaged by wheels from machinery or vehicles during hedge cutting after the crop has been sown.

The GAEC 7 rule change means farmers who will sow a field with oilseed rape or grass can now trim a hedge or lop branches off a tree before sowing commences, but only during the month of August. This exemption can be extended to fields being sown with other crops during August, but only with prior written permission received from Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspections Division (RPID).

A second amendment has provided further clarity to the exemption which allows farmers to trim hedges or lop branches off trees for reasons “necessary for the purpose of road safety”. This exemption has been broadened and defined as where a tree or hedge:

(i) overhangs a road, surfaced track or footpath to which the public have access so as to endanger or obstruct the passage of vehicles, pedestrians or horse riders; or
(ii) obstructs or interferes with the view of drivers of vehicles or the light from a public lamp.

NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee Chairman Ian Sands commented: “The changes to these regulations will allow for normal hedge maintenance to take place which otherwise would be delayed and prevent the damage to valuable sown oilseed rape and new grass.

“The value of this amendment cannot be underestimated, especially when growers have had such a difficult start to the year.

“Crops such as oilseed rape and grass which should be sown during August were repeatedly damaged by the restrictions placed on hedge cutting in August and this rule change will be greatly appreciated by farmers who can now properly maintain hedgerows without damaging valuable crops.

“It also gives farmers further clarity and allows them to continue to maintain the safety and visibility of roads and walkways for public use.”

Notes to Editor

  • A Business Guide is available to NFU Scotland members at https://www.nfus.org.uk/nfuscontent/business-guides/17458/amendments-made-to-gaec-requirements-hedge-trimming

Ends

Contact Douglas Ross on 0131 472 4059

Author: Douglas Ross

Date Published:

News Article No.: 88/18


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