QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF CONWY COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL||(CLAIMANT)|
|ROBERT N LLOYD||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
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(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR J AGEROS (instructed by Messrs Swayne Johnson & Wight, Denbigh LL16 3PA) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"Between 19 June 2001 and 29 June 2001, you intentionally or recklessly removed or caused or permitted another person to remove a hedgerow at land adjoining Nant Uchaf, Groes, Denbigh in contravention of Regulation 5(1) of the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 contrary to Regulation 7 of the Hedgerows Regulations 1997."
"The removal of any hedgerow to which these regulations apply, is permitted if it is required . . . (j), for the proper management of the hedgerow."
This structure of the statutory instrument is somewhat unusual. Thus, there is no statutory obligation on a land owner to serve a notice on the local authority. He may, if he wishes, remove a hedgerow without notice, and if prosecuted, may raise permitted removal pursuant to Regulation 6. There is no offence of disposing of a removed hedgerow following its removal and prior to inspection by a local authority. Although I have thus far concentrated on the criminal offence created by the regulations, there is also a procedure under Regulation 8 whereby whether or not the landowner is prosecuted under Regulation 7, the local authority can give him notice requiring him to replace a hedgerow. Also, quite apart from prosecution, if disputes arise between the landowner and the local authority about the importance of the hedgerow or the justification for its removal, there is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State in England or the National Assembly in Wales and, in either case, such an appeal is heard by an Inspector.
"The court accepted the evidence of both Mr Lloyd and Mr Williams and found that the hedge was worthless and dangerous and that its removal was required for the proper management of the hedgerow. Regulation 6(1)(j) of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 permits the removal of any hedgerow to which the regulations apply if it is for the proper management of the hedgerow, and in this case, there is no need to give notice."
"4.15 Cutting back a hedgerow in a manner that does not result in its destruction is unlikely to constitute removal in the terms given in paragraphs 3.14 to 3.16 above. Such works are therefore outside the scope of the regulations and do not need to be notified to the local planning authority.
"4.16 However, this provision has been included to make clear that appropriate hedgerow management techniques which may necessitate the hedgerow being cut back to ground level, such as coppicing, and which may sometimes be viewed by members of the public as removal, are exempt. Repeated coppicing at too frequent intervals or the deliberate cutting down of a hedgerow to ground level where such cutting has never formed a traditional technique of hedgerow management in an area, would not be covered under this exemption. This provision also allows, if necessary, the removal of dead or diseased shrubs or trees from the hedgerow, or of elder bushes as part of restoration works, eg coppicing and gapping, without prior notification. Acceptable management activities are intended to revitalise hedges and should reflect local practices."