The NFU is lobbying hard to be able to cut hedgerows a month earlier than is currently allowed. This is being billed as an unfair restriction on farmers imposed because of EU legislation. I’m not quite sure about that – do any readers of this blog know whether that is actually true?
Is this the beginning of an assault on so-called red tape, and if it is, is it a well-chosen target?
You can’t cut your hedges until September, which rules out sending round the hedge trimmers straight after harvest (which is a convenient time) and you have to wait until September when the weather, and therefore the soil conditions, may be far less favourable.
Farmers have a point – although the lovely Guy Smith, vice-president of the NFU, is quoted as saying ‘The government must give farmers and contractors the opportunity to trim hedges at a time when it is convenient for them.‘ which is typically selfish and pushy of the NFU as the public is pouring so much money into farming that we can tell farmers to do whatever we want them to do – they work for us.
However, most birds, although not all birds, will have finished nesting by mid-August and I just wonder whether there might just be a sensible compromise available here. I, like Guy Smith, would be interested to see the science behind the 1 September date, except I guess I really would be interested in the data whereas Guy has a self-interest in the result.
And this seems to be rather a local issue from the piece in Farmers Weekly – it is a Northants contractor who is quoted and my Corby MP, Tom Pursglove (129 signatures) who is writing to Defra on this matter and a South Northants MP, Andrea Leadsom (117 signatures) who leads the relevant department of Defra.
I have written to Mr Pursglove as follows:
I’m interested to see (in the Farmers Weekly) that you plan to write to Defra on the matter of hedgerow trimming. I hope you are asking them to take into account all science relating to birds’ nesting seasons when looking at this matter. As someone with some expertise in birds, I fully appreciate that there will be relatively few birds nesting at the very end of August, but rather more at the beginning of the month. What does the science tell us about the risk to birds from any change to the permitted cutting dates? Please may I see a copy of your letter to Defra?