Farmers are being urged to remember hedge cutting regulations to avoid a cross compliance penalty on their BPS payment.
FUW policy officer Bernard Griffiths said: “Most farmers will remember that they are not allowed to cut trees or hedges between 1 March to 31 August. If they don’t comply with the rules, they could face a hefty cross compliance penalty on their BPS payment which is avoidable.
“There are exceptions to the standard rule, but only if the conditions are met can farmers start cutting early. We therefore urge our members to make sure they don’t fall foul by accident.”
Only on arable land, where the normal agricultural practice requires that a winter arable crop is planted before 31 August, are farmers able to cut back the relevant hedges or trees from 1 August.
That exception only applies as long as nesting birds are not disturbed.
“So before you start cutting the hedge you have to check thoroughly to ensure that you will not disturb any breeding or rearing bird,” added Mr Griffiths.
Other exemptions include hedgerows or trees that overhang a highway, road, track or footpath to which the public have access, and the work
is necessary because the overhanging vegetation either obstructs the passage of vehicles or pedestrians; obstructs the view of drivers, or the light from a public lamp; or there is a danger to horse-riders.
Farmers are also allowed to cut or trim hedgerows and trees if they are dead, diseased, damaged or insecurely rooted, and are therefore likely to cause danger by falling onto a highway, road or footpath.
“I would also urge our members to remember that the company responsible for the maintenance of any overhanging electricity or telephone lines, needs to cut back trees and/or hedges for safety reasons,” added Mr Griffiths.