With spring on the way, police are warning gardeners to get their hedges cut before the bird nesting season to avoid breaking the law.
Sergeant Matt Howells, Dyfed Powys Police Wildlife Crime and Environment officer, said: “If you thinking of cutting back a hedge please ensure that you check inside beforehand as there may be a nesting bird inside and members of the public could fall foul of the law.
“Cutting hedges is not illegal, but the earlier you do it the better and make sure you give the nesting birds a thought.”
It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
Sgt Howells added: “It will be an intentional act, for example, if you or your neighbour know there is an active nest in the hedge and carry on cutting the hedge – damaging or destroying the nest in the process.
"With the increasing awareness of wildlife issues with programmes such as Springwatch and Autumnwatch, people are more willing to report matters to the police and we have seen an increase in the number of calls year on year. ”
The RSPB recommends that cutting hedges and trees is avoided between early March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds.
The RSPB says that a boundary hedge is the joint responsibility of both neighbours. Both must agree on major work, including removal, coppicing or laying.
In theory, you need your neighbours’ agreement even before trimming the hedge. If the hedge is just inside your neighbours’ garden, they own it. You only have the right to trim any part that encroaches over your boundary line.
Your neighbour should ask for your permission for access to trim the hedge on your property.