Hedgerows and watercourses are protected by Cross Compliance rules GAEC 14.
Buffer strips apply for 2 metres from the centre of the hedgerow if at least 20m continuous length, watercourse or field ditch (including those which are temporarily dry), and land within 1m of the top of the bank of a ditch or watercourse.
Exceptions apply only for:
- New hedgerows
- Parcels of land of 2 ha or less
- Hedgerows within the cartilage of a dwelling-house
- Where public rights of way run along the buffer strip and compliance would restrict public access
- Where written exemptions from the Rural Payments Agency apply
Management of the buffer strips:
- Green cover should be established and all reasonable steps taken to maintain it
- Cultivation and the application of fertilisers or pesticides is not allowed
The use of Roundup is allowed only under the following circumstances:
Farmers have an obligation under GAEC 11* to control invasive and injurious weeds and are allowed to use Roundup for spot treatment to control any of these weeds without being in breach of GAEC 14.
*GAEC 11. 'You must: take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread on your land and onto adjoining land of 'injurious' weeds; Common Ragwort, Spear Thistle, Creeping (or Field) Thistle, Broadleaved Dock and Curled Dock; and of the 'invasive' weeds; Rhododendron, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam.'