Shropshire’s historic hedgerows under threat

Update: Application withdrawn on 17 January 2013

There are almost unprecedented plans to plough out 7 miles of hedgerow near Chirbury. If proposals like this are nodded through, large areas of Shropshire could soon become barren wastelands, denuded of beauty and biodiversity.

Deadline: 17 January 2013. You can object here: planningpa.shropshire.gov.uk/online-applications. Just type 12/05237/HRM into the search box to bring up the application.

chirbury hedges
Location of Marrington Farm

Shropshire is a county that greatly benefits from the character and richness of its landscape. Our farmed landscape is important not only to the agricultural industry. It is a major tourist attraction and contributes to the quality of life of the county’s residents. Our fields, hedges and woods are a haven for wildlife and vital reservoir of biodiversity.

Heather next to some of the 7 miles of threatened hedgerow
Liberal Democrat councillor Heather Kidd at the hedgerows

Hedgerows are a critical component of this landscape. They are visually attractive. They provide wildlife havens and corridors. They are an integral part of the county’s history and heritage.

Over decades hedgerows have been grubbed out, trashing the attractiveness of the landscape. Their removal has too often eliminated the intimate connection between landscapes and history, ploughed out biodiversity, and impoverished the quality of soil. Despite government support for hedgerow protection in recent years, hedgerows remain one of most threatened elements of the English landscape.

The applicant states that the hedgerows have no heritage or wildlife importance. I dispute both of these assertions.


The hedgerows to be removed are in red

Giving the timing of this application, submitted a just three working days before Christmas, it has not been possible for me to examine the antiquity of the hedges. Nevertheless, as a former archaeologist it is apparent to me that they are remnants of an inclosure landscape dating to the early nineteenth century, if not before. They form part of an intricate mosaic of fields that give this part of the Marches its quintessential character.

The hedgerows have certainly been neglected, but that does to mean that close inspection will to reveal that they are rich in plant species and capable of supporting abundant biodiversity.

The scale of this application – seven miles of hedgerow – is staggering. The owners have stated their ambitions to create a mega-dairy (Farmers Weekly, 23 July 2010). They are not the only farmers to have such ambitions. If this application is allowed, it will set a precedent for large-scale bulldozing of hedgerows from Shropshire’s landscape.

I believe there are sufficient grounds under Regulation 4 of the Hedgerow Regulations (1997) for rejecting this application. I have asked Shropshire Council to do, and I hope that you can do the same. Our beautiful landscape in under threat!

The original deadline for objections was 3 January 2013, but the council has extended this to 17 January.

12/05237/HRM | Removal of hedgerows | Marrington Farm, Chirbury, Montgomery Shropshire SY15 6DR.

  Marrington Field name map 2