Concerns over Stevenage hedgerow reportedly cut back during nesting season

Hedgerow on Lonsdale Road which was cut back on May 21. Picture: Ian Harris

Hedgerow on Lonsdale Road which was cut back on May 21. Picture: Ian Harris - Credit: Archant

Concerns have been raised by Stevenage residents amid reports that hundreds of yards of hedging has been cut back inappropriately in the middle of nesting season.

The butchered hedgerow, along Lonsdale Road, was originally identified by residents earlier this week, and swiftly reported to Stevenage Borough Council.

Initially it was thought that planning developers Chalkdene Developments – who are building 85 new homes off Webb Rise – were responsible for the trimming.

Stevenage Borough Council said they were “speaking to the developer,” and were treating the situation as a “potential breach of the planning condition”.

It has since been confirmed, however, that the land is owned by Herts County Council, with a spokesperson arguing the work was done “in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act”.

Under the amended Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, nesting birds are protected from disturbance, and in some cases criminal fines can be imposed for breaches.

On Tuesday, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council Sharon Taylor said she had written to the Director of Environment for Herts County Council for an explanation.

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Ian Harris, a Lonsdale Road resident and amateur wildlife photographer, said the hedge “had been ripped to shreds”, and knew that the work “had been quite recent”.

Ian said: “If the work had been done in late February, the hedge would have grown back – but you can see that it’s raw to the bone.”

“There are things that you do, and there are things you don’t to – this is definitely something you don’t.”

Another resident posted on social media: “I live on Lonsdale Road and can confirm it was recent. My two girls said, ‘why are all the bushes burnt’ to which I said, ‘they’re not burnt, just cut back.’”

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “The hedge on Lonsdale Road was cut back on 21 May 2020, in line with a minor works schedule which state the hedge is to be cut three times a year.

“Our contractors carry out visual checks for nesting birds and do not cut hedges where they are present, as well as working in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

“They are often approached by local residents who ask for the hedge to be cut back a little further to make it easier for pedestrians to use the footpath.”

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