LETTER: We should protect our hedges to protect nature

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How appropriate that Robert Pasteiner’s letter (30.11.2017) lamenting the illegal removal of 100m of hedge by developers in Broyle Road should appear in the same issue as Richard Williamson’s excellent article on the ecological value of hedges.

To those of us who value such habitats the indifference of our local councils to this destruction is appalling, but no doubt of great reassurance to developers who know that they can so easily get away with it.

Now that our area is being over-run with housing developments hedge removal is sadly a common occurrence – witness the long length recently cleared in Shopwhyke Road on the way out of Chichester towards Tangmere. There will no doubt be more of the same here as development spreads. I know that trees will be planted on these estates ‘in compensation for the loss’ but a scattering of ornamental trees or even native ones is not any substitute for a mature hedge. A hedge provides shelter, food, transport lanes and, for birds, nesting sites, while none of these essentials is provided by individual trees and areas of cut grass.

Chichester is not the only region to be affected: here in Arun the situation is just as bad, if not worse, because Arun DC has not even got its future plans passed by the government, with the result that the developers are having a field day, as every objection gets over-ruled.

West of Barnham more than 200m of wooden hoarding has now been in place for over a year where there was once a lovely native hedge; the outlook for the unfortunate residents opposite must be most depressing; building has yet to start and so they will probably be faced with this view for several more years. Driving along this road which once felt very rural is no longer a pleasure.

Both Chichester and Arun are having to accept a great deal more houses than we would like but this should not prevent our councils from being diligent in protecting as much as possible of valuable habitats, some of which, for example hedges, do not need to be wilfully destroyed – in fact hedges would provide better screens than the sort of plantings being put in along Shopwhyke Road at the moment, which belong in a town not in rural outskirts. What has happened to the idea of preserving and fostering vital bio-diversity?

I hope that more residents will make their voices heard in defence of our precious environment as once lost it will not be recovered.