The six-week public consultation that is to feed into an ongoing review of the environmental impact assessment regulations will close to submissions on Monday 10 July.

Farmers can make a submission by email to before the closing date.

The review will assess the criteria set out by the Department of Agriculture which determines whether farmers must seek permission to remove hedges, join fields or intensify uncultivated land.

The regulations set out thresholds which, if met, require either a full environmental impact assessment before works can be carried out or Department pre-work screening approval.

Full assessments

Current thresholds where these full assessments are mandatory are 4km for hedgerow removal, 50ha for land drainage works and 50ha for taking uncultivated or semi-natural land into intensive use.

The sub-thresholds currently set for Department screening include the removal of hedgerows over 500m, draining an area larger than 15ha and taking more than 5ha of semi-natural areas into intensive agriculture.

The thresholds generally apply over a five-year duration. For example, a farmer who removes 100m of hedgerow annually will meet the 500m sub-threshold for screening.

Any of the current thresholds outlined above could change as a result of the ongoing review.

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