Historic Hedgerow Ripped Out “in Error”

The house-builder currently constructing 175 new properties on former Ruddington Green Belt south of Musters Road says a contractor removed a large section of mature hedgerow there by mistake.

Gardeners from ‘Buttercup Allotments’ off Asher Lane were alerted to the totally unexpected loss of their boundary hedge when a contractor working for Avant Homes suddenly starting digging it out on Maundy Thursday. When the allotments’ owner Brian Booker rushed onsite to challenge them, protesting that removal of this hedgerow was definitely not in Rushcliffe Borough Council‘s approved plans for ‘Wilbur Chase’, he was told: “We are not bothered. The developers will just have to pay a fine.”

Nevertheless, Brian managed to halt any further destruction of the mature hedgerow and save a large tree which the contractor had also intended to chop down. However, it’s estimated around 50 to 60 metres of the 100 metre long mixed Privet and Hawthorne boundary had already been ripped out. As well as being home to nesting birds, grass snakes and a badger run, there was also at least one bat roost – although that is in the section of hedgerow he managed to save from the diggers.

Admitting the mistake this week, an Avant Homes spokesperson told RUDDINGTON.info: “We are aware that the hedgerow was removed in error and are in the process of arranging for a replacement hedgerow to be planted and a fence to be installed to rectify the situation.”

Brian says: “Yes, they will replace with hedge whips on the section they have destroyed, but what about the remaining hedge? Will they guarantee not to touch that – or not to make another accidental mistake?!?”

Adam Wilkinson, who lives nearby, adds: “It’s good to see the recognition that the hedgerow was removed in error and will be replaced. However, long term damage has been done which will take many years to recover. Bird nesting habitats should not be disturbed during the breeding season, and the contractors carrying out this work would have been aware of that; and so would Avant Homes, who instructed them. A decades-old 50-metre length of established hedgerow has been destroyed, and that is inexcusable.”

One allotment holder, who has a chicken run in front of the surviving hedgerow, doesn’t believe it was an error: “It’s quite obvious they knew exactly what they were doing – getting contractors in on Thursday before the holidays to demolish over 100 metres of hedgerow – and they were just about to cut down a 10-metre tree, too. Some mistake! They need a hefty fine, which I very much doubt they will get – and it will not bring the wildlife back. But, for now, the bats are safe(ish) and the chickens just have a headache with the noise!”

The section of Buttercup Allotments’ hedgerow that was saved from removal “in error”

Only last month Rushcliffe Borough Council (RBC) pledged to ‘enhance our hedgerows’ by working closely with partners to reach out to farmers and landowners to provide advice and support – as well as warning that the unauthorised removal of a hedgerow can result in a fine of up to £5000 from the Council.

An RBC spokesperson told us: “Our Planning team and Tree Officer are in contact with Avant Homes on this matter and we share the concerns raised in the community, it is unacceptable this work has taken place in this manner. We continue to investigate the circumstances and are working with Avant to explore all appropriate mitigation options whilst ensuring the developer provides suitable replacement planting.”

Whilst not answering our question about whether a fine would also be imposed in this case, RBC’s statement continues: “It has been made clear to Avant that we expect housing developers to take their responsibilities seriously and protect the environment, not take action that can endanger local habitats. They have accepted the hedge was removed by mistake and are working with the Council to address this.”

The Protect Ruddington campaign group Tweets: “This is outrageous! Few villagers will believe this act of eco-vandalism was an error – and neither should Rushcliffe Borough Council. As well as them “replanting”, it’s clear the Council needs to levy the maximum £5000 fine to Avant Homes for either dishonesty or utter incompetence.”

Avant Homes says: “We will continue to work collaboratively with Rushcliffe Borough Council in a positive and proactive manner to resolve any concerns that are highlighted during the construction process.”

Given that the developer has already committed two serious planning breaches at ‘Wilbur Chase’, by twice allowing residents to move into new properties before RBC’s planning conditions were fulfilled (there’s still no sign of the required junction improvement work beginning at the Loughborough Road/Kirk Lane/Flawforth Lane crossroads), villagers can only hope the house-builder will keep to this promise.

Some allotment holders now have a very clear view of their new neighbours on Wilbur Chase – and vice versa!

{Photos courtesy of @Teddsy3}

Related posts