Management of Hedgerows
6.4.1 An established or beaten up hedge is eligible with the aim to enhance existing hedgerows, which will in turn provide improved habitats for invertebrates, birds and small mammals. A hedge planted or 'gapped up' under Countryside Premium Scheme or planted under RSS at the beginning of the first plan year, i.e. in the autumn of the application approval year, is also regarded as an established hedge for the purposes of the scheme and is therefore eligible for management under this option.
6.4.2 For the woody components of hedges, the aim should be to achieve a bushy structure down to the base with a minimum width of 2m and a minimum height of 1.75m. Above 2 metres, the hedge should be cut/trimmed to prevent it developing into a row of small trees, although occasional plants may be left to develop into hedgerow trees (see also paragraph 6.4.4).
6.4.3 Any gaps in the hedgerow must be filled. The filling of any significant gaps in existence on entry to the scheme must be completed by laying or planting during the course of the first year of the plan. Consideration should be given to the planting of appropriate native-species trees and shrubs in hedge gaps. A list of species of hedgerow trees and shrubs suitable for this purpose is provided at Appendix X. Leggy hedges may be coppiced by cutting the main stem about 75 - 100 mm above ground level. Cut at a slight angle to allow water to run off. Fencing may be necessary to prevent stock browsing the re-growth. On-going management will include the filling of gaps as they develop. A capital payment is available for coppicing, hedge laying and re-planting (where at least the minimum 6 plants per metre are planted).
6.4.4 Cut/trimmed no more frequently than every third year. Hedges should be trimmed between 1 December and 1 March.
6.4.5 Pesticides must not be applied within one metre of an established hedge. Spot treatment of weeds within one metre of any new hedge planting may be carried out using an approved herbicide but only with prior written consent from the local SEERAD office.
6.4.6 To be eligible for management under the RSS Management of Hedgerows option, the hedge must be planted in the autumn immediately following approval, i.e. for an RSS 2003 application approved on 1 September 2003, the hedge must be planted in the autumn of 2003. In its first 18 months of development, the hedge will be considered as both 'new hedge planting' and in early establishment. The hedge should be fully established by the end of that 18-month period, i.e. for an RSS 2003 application approved on 1 September 2003, by March 2005. The new transplants will need to be protected from browsing using either quills or rabbit-proof stock fencing. Competing weed growth around each plant will need to be controlled from planting until the roots are well established. Spot treatment of weeds within 1 metre of any new hedge plant may be carried using an approved herbicide but only with prior written consent from the local SEERAD office and only until the hedge plant is fully established - within 18 months of planting. Broader spectrum herbicides, if used, must be applied with great care - targeting only the vegetation immediately around each newly transplanted hedge plant.
6.4.7 When planting or re-planting hedges (incl. filling gaps) outwith a Designed Landscape, a single species must not account for more than 75% of plants established and applicants should be advised to plant with species commonly growing in other hedges in the district.
6.4.8 The hedge bottom should not be mown or grazed.
6.4.9 Where a fence is required, it should be sited at least one metre from the centre line of the hedge. A capital payment is available for the erection of a new fence.
6.4.10 Both sides of a hedgerow require to be managed under the Management of Hedgerows option, i.e. a 2 metre strip will be managed: 1 metre on either side of the centre-line. Both sides of the hedgerow must therefore lie within the boundary of the farm concerned and a 1 metre strip on each side of the centre-line of the hedge must be managed. Therefore, this option cannot be adopted for a hedge that itself forms the march, whether it be a boundary hedge or a roadside hedge.
6.4.11 The management payment will be based upon a strip not exceeding 2 metre in width, i.e. the length of hedge multiplied by 2 and divided by 10,000. The total area of the hedgerow will need to split between the appropriate Field Identifiers (FIDs) in Section III of the Application Form. Area figures should be entered to not less than two decimal places.
6.4.12 The area of land covered by this prescription can be claimed for Single Farm Payment. It cannot be counted as forage for LFASS purposes.
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