European chiefs have told British farmers to tear up hedgerows full of wildlife – because they are too wide.
(The Mirror, 13 March 2000, p17)
Farmers have categorically not been told to “tear up” hedgerows. Under the Common Agricultural Policy, aid payments are made on the basis of area. The existing Regulation appeared to provide an incentive for farmers to turn hedgerow into field area. Concern for the consequent wildlife implications led the Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to agree that existing rules should continue to apply.
Now, however, the Commission has announced a proposal stating that hedgerows, traditionally part of good agricultural cropping and utilisation practices, which are up to 2 metres wide, can be considered as eligible for aid. Under certain other conditions, hedges wider than two metres could also be eligible in view of specific environmental needs.