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Management of Hedgerows

This Option has been temporarily suspended - please see the Changes for agri-environment and forestry projects - Q & A page for details.


This Option will enhance existing, restored or new hedgerows.

What this will achieve

A controlled cutting regime will enhance hedgerows to provide shelter and food for insects, birds and small mammals.

The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species that may benefit include Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Brown Hare, Common Pipistrelle bat and Soprano Pipistrelle bat, and the lichens such as the orange-fruited elm-lichen.

What you can do


  • fill in any gaps in your hedges by coppicing, laying or planting
  • when managing a hedge for landscape benefits, cut your hedge on both sides no more than once every 2 years and only cut one half of the length of your hedge in any one year. Cut a different section of hedge each year so that all hedges are cut in rotation
  • when managing for biodiversity benefits, cut your hedge on both sides no more than once every 3 years and only cut one-third of the length of your hedge in any one year
  • manage your hedges over several years so they are at least 1.5 m tall and at least 2 m wide at the base
  • cut your hedges between 1 December and 1 March
  • do not apply pesticides within 2 m of an established hedge except with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers for activities such as spot treatment of scheduled weeds (i.e. creeping, spear or field thistle, curled or broadleaved dock and common ragwort) or non-native invasive species (i.e. Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Rhododendron ponticum or Japanese knotweed). Where the hedge is located adjacent to a watercourses SEPA must also be consulted prior to treatment
  • use an approved herbicide for spot treatment of weeds within 1 m of any new hedge plant. Where the hedge is located adjacent to a watercourses SEPA must also be consulted prior to treatment
  • do not mow or graze the hedge bottom
  • where a fence is required, site it at least one metre from the centre line of your hedge
  • manage both sides of your hedgerow, that is a 1-metre wide strip on either side of the centre line of the hedge - a 2-metre wide strip in total.
  • plant your new hedge as early as possible in the first year and certainly by the autumn immediately following the beginning of your undertaking. In its first 18 months of development, your hedge will be considered as both 'new hedge planting' and in early establishment. Your hedge should be fully established by the end of that 18-month period
  • establish plants in a double row with a minimum of 6 plants per metre where new hedging or gapping up of existing hedges is undertaken. A single species must not account for more than 75% of plants established. You should only use native-species trees and shrubs, although you may plant beech and sycamore where these are appropriate and traditionally used in your local hedges. You should use plants from your local area wherever possible
  • protect your new hedge plants from grazing livestock (farmed and wild) and, where they are a problem, rabbits. You can protect your hedges with stockproof fencing and rabbit-proof netting where required
  • control invasive weeds around each hedge plant during the first 3 to 4 years. You can control invasive weeds by frequent cutting or mulching (including black polythene sheeting) or by using an approved herbicide for spot treatment
  • obtain the highway authority's consent for planting or replanting hedges within 5 m of the edge of any major roadway
  • coppice leggy hedges by cutting the main stem about 75-100 cm above ground level. You should cut at a slight angle to allow water to run off. You may need to fence to prevent stock from browsing the re-growth
  • aim to achieve a bushy structure down to the base with a minimum width of 2 m and minimum of height of 1.5 m for the woody components of hedges. You may leave occasional plants to develop into hedgerow trees
  • Maintain existing hedgerow trees, and where possible, encourage new hedgerow trees to develop at irregular intervals along the hedge, providing at least 1 tree for every 200 m of hedgerow, by marking them and not cutting them
  • you can only claim for new hedge planting or gapping up carried out during the first 18 months of development of a newly planted hedge under the Planting or re-planting of hedge Capital Item. The cost of coppicing, laying and any later planting is included in the payment for this Option and therefore cannot be claimed under the hedge planting, coppicing or laying capital Options.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

You can enter established or beaten up hedges under this Option.

This Option is only available where the 2-metre wide strip to be managed under the Management of Hedgerows option is located on the applicant's land, entirely within the applicant's boundary, and where there is access to cut both sides of the hedge. The hedge must not obstruct any cutting, or other maintenance, operations associated with a public road.

This management Option is not available for a hedge that itself forms the march, whether it is a boundary hedge or a roadside hedge. A hedge 'that itself forms the march' is one where the centre-line of the hedge is the boundary line. If the applicant's boundary runs along the outside of the hedge (at least 1 metre from the centre-line of the hedge), then that hedge would be eligible for management under the Management of Hedgerows Option, whether or not it is a roadside hedge.

Hedge planting alone is not eligible under this Option. It must be associated with hedge management.

If you are planting a new hedge, you must have completed the planting work before 15 May in order to claim the first year's annual recurrent payment for hedge management on the Single Application Form (SAF) in that year. If you complete the hedge planting after the 15 May, the earliest you can submit your first claim for the annual recurrent hedge management payment will be on the SAF in the following year.

Please see the guidance on claims for more information.

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see Definitions of Land Types page for more details.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed for:

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to these capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that this capital item will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you at the end of each year.

Cut once in 3 years £0.93 per metre per year

Cut once in 2 years £0.93 per metre per year


The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Hedge planting as per specification detailed under 'what you can do'
  • Pesticide records checked to ensure pesticides have not been applied within 2 metres of the established hedge except with the prior written permission of Scottish Ministers. If the hedge or new hedge plant is in proximity to a watercourse, inspectors will also request evidence that SEPA has been consulted prior to treatment with pesticides.Hedge is protected from grazing by farmed and/or wild animals
  • Hedge is protected from grazing by farmed and/or wild animals
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards

List of links to relevant technical guidance