What wildlife law affects tree and hedge work?

Information and advice on the regulations in relation to European Protected Species can be found on the Natural England website.

Treework, bats and nesting birds

In accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act - 1981, Conservation - Natural Habitats -Regulations 1994 and Countryside Rights of Way Act - 2000, you must consider the timing and type of tree work operations to avoid causing disturbance to any nesting or breeding birds or bat roosts that may be present within trees and hedgerows.

It is an offence (subject to exceptions) to intentionally kill, injure, or take, possess, or trade in any wild animal listed, and prohibits interference with places used for shelter or protection, or intentionally disturbing animals occupying such places.

If nesting birds or bat roosts have been disturbed (and therefore a breach of the legislation has taken place), you should report the matter to the Northamptonshire Police on 01604 700700 giving as much information as possible.

Bird nesting/breeding season

Non-urgent major tree work involving tree removal or reduction and hedge cutting operations should not be undertaken during the bird nesting or breeding season, which is considered to be from 1 March to 31 July. However, depending on seasonal temperatures, some birds continue breeding into August and September.

Hedge cutting during the bird nesting or breeding season should be avoided as nearly every hedgerow in the country will have birds breeding in it during this time. All wild birds, their young, their eggs and active nests are protected under law. It is an offence to damage a nest intentionally while it is in use or being built and hedge cutting is highly likely to damage nests or cause them to be deserted.


All bats and their roosts are strictly protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994. Deliberately capturing, disturbing, injuring and killing bats is prohibited. Damaging or destroying their breeding sites and resting places - roosts - is also prohibited.

Where bats are suspected to be present, seek advice from a licensed bat specialist and if appropriate, get the relevant licences before you carry out any major tree work or hedge cutting.

Specialist advice on wildlife and ecological issues can be obtained by contacting a professional from the directory of consultants provided by the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

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