Skip to main content

Management of Hedgerows (England) Regulations 2024

Volume 838: debated on Monday 20 May 2024

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Management of Hedgerows (England) Regulations 2024.

Relevant document: 23rd Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

My Lords, I declare my interests as set out in the register.

I am sure that many noble Lords will agree that hedgerows are precious features of our landscape, enriching our environment and wildlife. Many of our wild birds depend on them, including red-listed birds such as the linnet and the yellowhammer. Hedgerows also help food production by supporting pollinators, providing windbreaks and shelter, and protecting the soil. I am therefore pleased to bring before this Committee this statutory instrument, which proposes further to protect our hedgerows. The instrument establishes by legislation a common approach to managing hedgerows on agricultural land in England. It builds on the existing legal protections for some hedgerows, which will remain in place.

In proposing this legislation, we have listened to the views of many who cherish our hedgerows, including many farmers. I thank those who responded to our consultation on protecting hedgerows; their insights have enriched our understanding. We received almost 9,000 responses, which we have considered carefully. The responses showed how much hedgerows are valued. There was strong consensus from environmental and farming stakeholders alike that hedgerows should be protected in domestic law in a similar way to the previous hedgerow management rules provided by cross-compliance.

That is what this statutory instrument does. It aims to provide a familiar baseline for hedgerow management. We want to make sure that everyone knows what is expected and is supported to follow good practice. As a safeguard, we are also making sure that there are clear, proportionate consequences for the small minority who might choose to ignore it.

I know that these rules are simply a reasonable minimum which most farmers have been practising for many years. Farmers are the guardians of our hedgerows, protecting, planting and maintaining them for generations. I thank them for their continued efforts to help wildlife thrive on their farms, alongside food production. We trust them to continue to do the right thing. In fact, many are already going further than required by these regulations. We have seen strong uptake of options to manage and further improve hedgerows under our agri-environment schemes. I am delighted to report that there are already more than 20,000 agreements or applications in place, contributing to the management of over 60,000 miles of hedgerow in England. We look forward to working in partnership with many more farmers to manage and improve their hedgerows in future.

The purpose of these regulations is to protect hedgerows in order to support biodiversity, benefit the environment and enrich the landscape. They will make sure that all farmers are treated fairly by upholding common rules for managing hedgerows, and they will provide clarity on what is expected. The regulations govern the management of “important” hedgerows on agricultural land. Broadly, this means hedgerows which have a continuous length of at least 20 metres or which, if shorter, meet another hedgerow at each end. They do not apply to hedgerows within or forming the boundary of a dwelling house. Because the regulations apply to all important hedgerows growing on agricultural land, they will bring into scope some people who were not subject to cross-compliance, such as those who chose not to claim any direct payments or who have farms under five hectares in size.

There are two main requirements under these regulations. First, cutting or trimming hedges will be prohibited between 1 March and 31 August inclusive. This is to protect hedge-nesting birds and their habitats during the breeding season. There are some exceptions to this rule to give farmers and others flexibility where needed. The second requirement is to establish and maintain a two-metre-wide buffer strip alongside the hedgerow. This will protect the hedgerow and its root system from the effects of cultivation and the application of fertilisers or pesticides. Subject to certain exemptions, these activities will not be allowed within the buffer strip. The requirement for a buffer strip will not apply to fields which are two hectares or smaller.

We recognise that people may need time to establish their buffer strips where they do not already have them in place. We therefore propose that, in cases where a field has no buffer strip and is in crop production on 1 July 2024, the requirements will not come into force until that crop has been harvested. In all cases, the exemptions are needed to accommodate the practicalities of farming, or for health and safety-related reasons. They are largely the same as under cross-compliance. They are in place to ensure that we have the right balance between hedgerow protections and effective farming.

The regulations will be enforced on behalf of the Secretary of State by the Rural Payments Agency. Although the rules themselves will be familiar to many farmers, there will be a different approach to enforcement, with the emphasis being on being fair and proportionate. The Rural Payments Agency will take a primarily advice-led approach to enforcement. This has been shown to be the best approach for bringing farmers into compliance in other regulatory areas. However, the Rural Payments Agency will also be able to use a range of civil sanctions and criminal proceedings for the worst-case scenarios. Such action will be proportionate to the damage caused.

Subject to parliamentary approval, detailed information on how the regulations will operate will be provided once the statutory instrument has been made. The Rural Payments Agency will also hold a public consultation on its proposed enforcement policy. I know that it is committed to taking a modern, pragmatic and proportionate approach, with advice and guidance at the forefront.

Although these regulations govern the management of hedgerows on agricultural land, we recognise the value of hedgerows in other locations. Officials are therefore working separately with stakeholders to consider how to support the sustainable management and protection of hedgerows more widely in future.

In conclusion, this statutory instrument will afford fuller protection to one of our countryside’s greatest assets, the hedgerow. That will, I hope, be widely welcomed. I beg to move.

My Lords, I have only one small question for my noble friend the Minister, as we do not have too many hedgerows in north Yorkshire; we mostly have stone walls, which we could have a separate debate on another time.

I am intrigued by the Government’s response to questions posed by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in its report. It transpires that the Government are now bringing within the remit of cross-compliance farms of less than five hectares but larger than two hectares. For what reason are we going down that path? Obviously, these are quite small farms. The fields that we used to claim on when we owned a couple of fields would have fallen into this category, I think. I no longer have such an interest, but I wonder why we have gone down the path of including farms of between two and five hectares. Does my noble friend the Minister not agree that this seems like a lot of administration for such small farms?

I have been having sleepless nights about this, noble Lords may be pleased to hear. I was always a great fan of cross-compliance. It was quite a low-key instrument; nevertheless, it could be deployed. Of course, hedges are vital for wildlife and for carbon. They provide linear routes through our landscapes and join up patches of habitat. Filling the gaps in hedges, for example, is really important, for all these reasons.

Turning to my anxiety, it took ages to establish whether there was going to be a statutory instrument to fill the gap left by the demise of cross-compliance, and it then took some time for that to come forward. In a way, my great regret is that we have not used this opportunity. For heaven’s sake, the benefits of leaving Europe are few enough, but improving the situation for hedges would have been one of them. I would have preferred it if the Government had removed the three existing exemptions: for fields under two hectares, for hedges younger than five years and for the no-cutting period. When you look at the consultation, you see that there was not really much support among the farming community for retaining them. This could have been an opportunity absolutely to re-recognise the value of hedges, particularly in fields of under two hectares, and the importance of hedges younger than five years having protection from the beginning.

Apart from lecturing the Minister on this and lying awake at night worrying about it, I simply want to ask the Minister for four things. First, will he re-examine these exemptions? We have this wretched statutory instrument, and let us get the damn thing in because, at the moment, there is no protection for these hedges; but there is an opportunity here to improve on what Europe is doing and re-examine the exemptions.

Secondly, there should be a real proposition to extend the no-cutting period beyond even that in the instrument. My own wildlife trust, of which I am patron—I declare an interest—the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, has done a big hazel dormouse project that shows that there are multiple active nests during the period from September to October. If hedges are cut at that point, it prevents the population really thriving, and this is a very threatened species.

Maintaining hedges and not cutting them for even longer provides valuable berries and other food for winter wildlife and, as the Minister said, for farmland birds that are really in decline, such as the turtle dove, linnet, cirl bunting and yellowhammer. Bedford used to be the yellowhammer capital of the world, as far as I could tell, and you would be very hard put to find one at all now. In these species, late broods are disproportionately important. If they can get a third brood away, the population has a greater chance of increasing rather than standing still or declining. Again, extending the no-cutting period is something farmers would appreciate.

Thirdly, I ask the Minister to think about two matters not connected to hedgerows, but whereby we lose as a result of losing cross-compliance: water body buffers and soil erosion conditions, which are absolutely vital. They are hot in the public mind at the moment, particularly in the light of water pollution. Will he undertake to look at them and produce statutory instruments to reinstate them?

Lastly, I know that the Minister likes to tell me when I ask him things that are not particularly germane to the subject in hand, that are not his brief or are above his pay grade—or he will have another way of sending me away with a sore heart—but I hope that he might bump into his DLUHC colleagues and look in a concerted way at not just hedgerows that are subject to agricultural practice but those threatened by development. I know that one should not take personal examples as the norm, but I cannot help feeling that, in both the planning applications against which I have fought in the last two years, the local planning authority chose to ignore the hedgerow regulations in the planning advice. It destroyed hedgerows that not only are vital for carbon and wildlife but have huge historic lineage. If he were to bump into the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, in order to tell her that, it would be extremely helpful.

My Lords, I declare my farming interests as laid out in the in the register. I congratulate Defra and the Government; a lot of thought has gone into this. It was said that we have not had any regulations protecting hedgerows since we came out of cross-compliance, but I would just like to big up farmers, I suppose. Years and years ago, nearly every single hedge would be cut every year. Then, they were encouraged to cut them every second year; then, a further development was to cut one side a year and maybe leave the other for three years. Now, a lot of farmers in the regenerative movement and others are barely cutting hedges. As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, that provides many more berries, habitats and suchlike. So, the fact that we have not had any regulations for six months or so is not the end of the world; I do not think we have lost any great hedges.

I take issue with the noble Baroness, Lady Young, suggesting that we should continue not cutting hedges after 31 August. Two or three weeks later and we will be in autumn; all nesting birds will have nested well by then.

My question is very simple and follows on from what the two noble Baronesses said. It is about really small fields; I am talking now about private householders. While all the farmers are obeying the law and not cutting between 1 March and 31 August, you can drive out anywhere in the countryside or in small towns and villages and you will see plenty of householders cutting their own garden hedges. So, does this rule apply to them? If it does, I suspect that it will be very hard to enforce. I am sure there are plenty of gardeners becoming more aware of the importance of their hedgerows as habitats for nesting birds and suchlike, but I would be very interested to have an answer on this if my noble friend the Minister has one.

My Lords, I declare my interest as chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership, and I will come back to a particular regional issue in a minute.

I agree with the Minister on the emotion and feeling concerning hedges. Cornwall was one of five—I think—pilot local nature recovery strategy areas. We went through a long process of consultation with the public on the priorities for local nature recovery and habitat. Hedges came out top by far. People feel very strongly about them emotionally, but exactly as the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, has said, they are an essential part of our rural habitat, particularly in connecting areas of environmental importance.

I want to ask some straightforward, short questions on issues that I did not understand. First, the instrument refers to “the Regulator”. Maybe the Minister explained this, but I am not clear: who is the regulator? I presume that this comes back to one of the Acts referred to in the statutory instrument.

Also, who is the enforcer? I was quite surprised to understand from the Minister that the enforcer is probably the RPA, which has a role in payments for SFIs and some other Countryside Stewardship schemes. I am not sure about that, but there is some confusion over environmental regulation and who things should be reported to. Occasionally, it is Natural England but usually, strangely, in relation to most environmental and countryside regulations, it is the police.

As the noble Lord just said, farmers are very good at complying with such regulations because they value their own hedges. If a member of the public happens to see someone transgressing them, who should they telephone or get on to? Is it the RPA, the police, or Natural England? This is something we are going through in Cornwall, making the position clear on environmental infringement. I would not expect this to be a huge issue, but who should they go to?

My final question is on a matter very close to our hearts in the far south-west: Cornish hedges, which are a hybrid between the stone walls that you might find in Yorkshire and hedges as we would normally understand them. They are the key way to create field divisions in Cornwall. I do not quite understand whether Cornish hedges are included in this selection.

I agree absolutely with the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, particularly regarding the exemptions. I cannot understand the five-year rule. It seems to me even more vital that young hedges are protected, so I encourage the Minister to bring forward yet another statutory instrument to change that.

My Lords, we too welcome these regulations. This instrument was noted by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. Hedges are a crucial part of our historic landscape, living landscape and biodiversity, so anything we can do, cross party, to improve and promote them is extremely important.

These draft regulations propose new legal requirements for the management and protection of hedgerows on all agricultural land in England. The Explanatory Memorandum notes that the new rules will “broadly replicate” the previous cross-compliance requirements under the EU’s common agricultural policy, which linked the management and protection of hedgerows with subsidy payments.

The cross-compliance system ended on 31 December 2023, as part of the Government’s wider agricultural reforms in England and the transition to domestic schemes after Brexit. This instrument will finally close the gap in protections since 31 December 2023, requiring farmers and land managers to maintain green-cover buffer zones of 2 metres from the centre of the hedgerow, prohibiting cultivation or the application of pesticides or fertilisers and reintroducing a ban on cutting or trimming of hedgerows between 31 March and 31 August to protect wildlife during the bird nesting season.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee reports that it asked Defra whether any cross-compliance requirements would not be replicated, and the department replied that the SI was described as “broadly” replicating

“because it is not an exact replica of those rules”.

The Minister has spoken to the fact that the SI extends the scope of the requirements to some hedgerows that did not fall under the previous cross-compliance rules. Cross-compliance rules applied only to those farmers in receipt of the common agricultural policy direct payments.

Under this SI, the requirements on hedgerow management will apply to all agricultural land, as defined, including some land which was not subject to direct payments—such as allotments and land with horses—and, as we have heard, farms of less than 5 hectares which had previously been exempt from cross-compliance. As a result, the SI in effect offers greater compliance for our hedgerows.

The broadening of hedgerow protection is welcomed; indeed, the consultation showed 95% support. However, will the Minister confirm that that understanding of “broadly” is indeed correct? Further, as has been mentioned already, paragraph 5.2 of the Explanatory Memorandum states:

“These requirements will protect hedgerows that are deemed ‘important’ in this instrument for the purposes of the power to regulate in respect of hedgerows in section 97 of the Environment Act 1995”.

Will the Minister explain the meaning of the word “important” in this sentence? I ask the Minister to consider, as others have mentioned, the exemption of fields under 2 hectares and hedgerows less than 5 years old and the possible need to extend the cutting period. Will he keep them in the department’s sights to see whether these regulations will, in time, need further reform or strengthening?

The SI covers only hedgerows on agricultural land, as defined. Do the Government have any intention to extend these protections to hedgerows managed by local authorities, such as on golf courses? A lot of our hedgerows are not on farmland; they are also in other places.

Regarding paragraph 8 of the Explanatory Memorandum, can the Minister give a clear indication of when he expects the department to publish guidance on enforcement, and what information and funds will be disseminated to ensure that it is understood and properly enforced? Will he provide some estimate of the proposed cost of fines based on the financial benefit derived from any offences under the SI?

Finally, paragraph 11 of the Explanatory Memorandum notes that the SI will come into force “the day after” today. I welcome that, to minimise the gap in compliance. Is the Minister aware of whether there has been any damage to our hedgerows as a result of the gap in the legislation? Has the department done any checks on that? If not, will it do so to see whether any damage to hedgerows has happened in that period?

My Lords, I rise briefly to say that I welcome these regulations very much. I am very glad that the department is taking its responsibilities to hedgerows seriously, but I think we could be encouraged to do a little bit better than the EU. I echo what noble Lords have said about extending the period, perhaps, or encouraging alternate sides of the hedgerow. Are there are any plans to do so? I say this not just because of the shelter they give wildlife or the food for birds over the winter but because there are some birds, such as the blackbird, that can have a late brood in August. After 31 August, these fledglings may seek shelter on the ground beneath the hedgerows. I think that maybe we could think of extending the period in certain parts.

I also echo the question about whether there is any requirement on local authorities; will the regulations extend to local authorities or just to privately owned land? I leave it at that, but I would be very grateful to hear any thoughts.

My Lords, we welcome this statutory instrument. We have heard that a regulatory gap arose when cross-compliance was withdrawn at the beginning of this year. Our concern is that the SI was not progressed more quickly, because the no-cutting period it covers is from 1 March to 31 August, so cutting has been permitted that is not going to be permitted next year and has not been permitted in previous years, so getting this new system in place as quickly as possible must be a priority. I was interested in the question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, about whether there is any evidence of what damage has been done in the meantime and, if so, what will be done to mitigate that.

My noble friend Lady Young of Old Scone said that this is a bit of a missed opportunity because we could have done better than the former EU protections, and she went into some information about that. We have heard that the main issue is the three exemptions from the former cross-compliance—fields under two hectares, hedgerows younger than five years and exemptions to the no-cutting period—so I will not go into detail around that. Despite the fact that some noble Lords, particularly the noble Earl, Lord Leicester, who is no longer in his place, mentioned that farmers and landowners on the whole follow best management practice, and we do not want to undermine the work that farmers do, the exemptions should have been carried across wholesale into the new regulations because otherwise hedgerows are not protected. It is important that we have those protections in place in law for sound environmental reasons.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, mentioned enforcement. The SI embraces a different approach to enforcement that we have been seeing across farming more broadly. In other words, it is now advice-led, which will improve trust and drive better outcomes. Interestingly, the SI allows a defence of mistake when regulations have not been followed, whereas cross-compliance always said a breach is a breach, even if that breach was a mistake. I think we would in principle support that because there is no point in punishing farmers if they have made a genuine mistake, but it takes more time and resources for the Environment Agency to implement the new approach. The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, asked who enforces this. My understanding is that it is the Environment Agency, but perhaps the Minister could confirm that. How is that slightly more complex enforcement going to be resourced and managed? One of the reasons for asking is because new data has shown that the majority of deadlines that were issued as part of this new advice to farmers to improve the environment were missed. It is just about making sure that it all comes together and works effectively.

Martin Lines, from the Nature Friendly Farming Network, who we all know well, said in an article that he thinks large food corporations bear significant responsibility for this. Does the Minister agree with that? Where has the evidence come from?

We have heard that the removal of cross-compliance has left other notable gaps in protection, particularly for water courses and soil. My noble friend Lady Young of Old Scone talked about this issue—in particular, the buffer strips next to water courses—in some detail. Although the requirement obviously was not there to address water pollution specifically, it was better than nothing. Not having it potentially means a greater risk of nutrient run-off. I assure the Minister that I am not going to start talking about water pollution today, but how are we going to prevent run-off going into our water courses?

A number of noble Lords asked whether the Government are planning to bring forward any legislation to address these remaining gaps. I support that question because it would be helpful to have further SIs, both to plug all the gaps that are still there and to improve the situation as it is at the moment. We know that we can get protections through the SFI schemes but those are voluntary, and a voluntary scheme does not bring in the same level of protection. We consider that it would be better to have this matter regulated for.

Finally, I wish to raise one particular issue. In his introduction, the Minister talked about Defra looking at how further to manage hedgerows sustainably in future. That is incredibly important but I have one concern. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, talked about the fact that they have drystone walls in Yorkshire. We have them in Cumbria but we also have a lot of farm hedgerows along the roads—that is, a lot of roadside hedgerows. Something that has become appallingly obvious recently is the number of ash trees in those hedgerows; we have a lot of ash trees in Cumbria. They have all had to be cut down because they are dying and there are concerns that they are going to fall into the road. Those hedgerows just look devastated. If we are looking at having sustainably managed hedgerows in future, in the same way that we look at how to manage trees, can we also look at how we can support hedgerows through disease and the loss of such an important part of those hedgerows, when we have diseases such as ash dieback?

Again, I thank all those who contributed because, from my perspective, this has been a really interesting debate to listen to.

I start by picking up on the issue of ash trees, disease and stuff like that. Like the noble Baroness, I take the train—up to and down from Scotland most weeks. If you look out, you see that things are really horrifying right now. All the leaves are out, and there is dead tree after dead tree. It illustrates the importance of our wider biosecurity. I know that the BTOM has not been to everybody’s approval. Frankly, as we all know, if you are in government, you cannot get this right whichever way you go because some people think that you have not done enough and others say that you have done too much. However, this is a really important issue; on ash trees, it is just a horror.

Keeping some of the pests and diseases that affect our flora and fauna out of the UK is absolutely key. If noble Lords get a chance to go to the Chelsea Flower Show, I recommend that they go to the APHA site. It is based on Asian hornets and is absolutely incredible. It just shows you what we are up against every day of every week. At this time of year, everything is coming alive, and it is all on its way over here. The Defra team and the wider Defra family do an unbelievable amount of work to stop a lot of this stuff coming in. I forget exactly what the cost of ash dieback across the country will be, but it is in the tens of billions; it is going to leave great holes in our hedges and in our woods. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, makes a great point: what are we going to do to fill that gap? Perhaps we need to start thinking about that more.

I was really interested in the debate started, I think, by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, on this conflict between farmers and environmentalists—if I may phrase it as crudely as that. Several speakers implied that, because we have had a few months without these regulations, somehow we will be ripping out hedgerows two to the dozen, because we could do that without the regulations. I do not understand that mindset at all; I have never come across it anywhere. I do not know whether the noble Earl, Lord Russell, has; we could perhaps have a conversation afterwards it that is happening, but I have never come across it anywhere and I think most farmers would take proper exception to it being implied. Again, I would be delighted to have a wider conversation.

To answer the specific point, I have heard nothing to suggest that any farmer would remove any hedgerow. On the contrary, there has been a huge increase in people wanting to do better, which is where the farming community comes from.

However, the debate was interesting, because it touched on a few other issues about exemptions, exceptions and so on. There was talk about why we are not protecting young hedges, as if not applying the buffer zone would have a negative impact on young hedges. I do not know if your Lordships have ever planted and looked after a hedge, but it takes quite a long time to get settled in and a lot of careful work each year to keep it there. Buffer zones would overwhelm a young hedge; the weeds would overwhelm it and you would get a properly scrawny hedge with high leaf cover because the understorey would have been taken out completely. I appreciate that some of the exceptions may be counterintuitive, but it is important to do the homework and understand the reasons for some of these things before suggesting that they are somehow improper or not correct. People put a lot of effort and energy into this sort of stuff, so it is perhaps good to appreciate that more widely.

Soil erosion and water body buffers were other issues that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and others raised. Perhaps I could take them both away, come back with some more information and write to her.

There were quite a lot of questions on people cutting hedges in their gardens. Why can they do that when farmers have to obey the rules? How does that extend to golf courses, public authorities and all the rest of it? Again, this is a pretty challenging area. We do not live in a police state; we are trying to do our best. Education, not enforcement, is the best way of solving this problem. We are consulting on wider issues with hedges. We are just about to start that consultation, which will be an interesting exercise, because the practicalities of enforcing against someone cutting their garden hedge are pretty challenging and I am not sure that we want to get into that space.

A number of noble Lords raised specific issues with the timing of when you can cut a hedge and when you cannot. It is a trade-off between farming and the wider environment. Farmers have other things to do and, by the time we are into September, they are planning for next year and have a lot of other tasks. Sometimes there is a little gap when this can be done. I do not have information on the specific example of a dormouse, but 99% of species have fledged and gone by early September.

I think the noble Lord needs to look at the latest information about the impact that climate change is having on extending breeding seasons. It is notable; I will send him some.

I have not looked at that and I appreciate that these dates are moving, but we have to start somewhere and those dates have been chosen for the moment.

The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, quizzed me on two-acre fields or less, and why they might be exempt. I hope everybody can understand that, if you have a smaller field, taking up a two-metre buffer zone around the edge of it will have a disproportionate impact. The Government recognise that and it came through pretty clearly in the consultation.

That was to try to include as many of our precious hedges as we can; that is still quite a big space. Again, through the consultation, it did not seem to cause a great deal of alarm, so it seemed perfectly sensible to include it.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, asked a number of questions about who is accountable, who is the regulator and who is the enforcer. The regulations will be enforced by the Rural Payments Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State. The Rural Payments Agency has a history of enforcing the hedgerow maintenance requirements under cross-compliance rules. It is well placed to develop and implement the new enforcement regime for all these regulations. The RPA will be taking an advice and guidance-led approach to enforcement.

On his supplementary question of who you should ring if you are driving along and you see someone doing damage to a hedgerow, I guess that question has always been there. Presumably, people will ring the police in the first instance if they see something going wrong, and they will guided by them to the appropriate agency. In this case, it is the RPA.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, enquired about the definition of “important” hedgerows. The definition used for these regulations is designed to allow them to replicate as closely as possible the requirements for hedgerow management under cross compliance. For this reason, it was not practicable to use the same definition as is used in the Hedgerows Regulations 1997.

There were a number of slightly more detailed supplementary questions on which I will write to the noble Earl.

I am grateful for the thoughts and questions raised in today’s debate. They underline the value that so many of us place—

Forgive me—I do not want to take up the time of the Grand Committee or the Minister; we have taken up a fair bit of time. However, I would value a clarification on Cornish hedges, which are very specific, at some point.

My apologies—I think I can answer that question. Those are not covered by these regulations but they are being consulted on under the new ELMs model, so they will be included there.

In conclusion, I hope your Lordships will support these important regulations. I commend them to the Committee.

Motion agreed.