Follow the Forum’s FoI to Defra on hedgerow matters?

Some of you following this blog will be aware that as well as recording, surveying and monitoring the amazing natural history interest of the Humberhead Levels, the Forum has and will on occasions, when its Executive deem it necessary, take a ‘campaigning stance’ in such matters as hedgerow damage or removal.

We are currently awaiting responses to enquiries regarding alleged illegal removal of Enclosure Award hedgerows in the Parish of Fishlake.  Doncaster MBC as the local  planning authority are the ‘appropriate authority’ in this case.

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The Executive is also in correspondence with DEFRA about the procedure applied to an application for a drainage scheme in the same parish which would have seen nearly a kilometre of species rich ancient hedgerow removed along with substantive mature oak trees.  This scheme was only modified as a result of local challenge but it still seeks to destroy around 150 metres of ancient hedgerow.  Should we regard the saving over 800 metres as success and walk away?

The scheme was submitted by the local Danvm Drainage Commissioners (DDC) under Environmental Impact Assessment (Land Drainage Improvement Works) Regulations 1999 (as amended) (‘the Regulations’).  However, in the opinion of the Forum’s Executive and others the scheme failed to take due account of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997 and the Hatfield Thorne and Fishlake Enclosure Award of 1825 and its enabling Acts of 1801 and 1811.  Defra based its decision on EIA Regulations but pointed out to the DDC the existence of other extant legislation.

So, look up our questions here and here and follow progress, the deadline for the Defra response is 5 July.  Whilst not actually part of the current casework per se and described herein they do relate to the wider issue of erosion of environmental protection and accountability and they are research which will inform another ‘project’ which is currently at development stage.

Does it matter that the landscape character of the district continues to be changed from pastoral to agri-industrialised prairie scapes more akin to that of the neighbouring flatlands that can be seen as you travel north from Fishlake along the M62 and look eastwards?  Should developers and advocates of ‘improvements’ be bound by legislation or regulations?

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We reported on the State of Nature report recently, farmland losses are discussed and larger fields have had a significant impact on the loss of natural field boundaries, that is to say hedgerows which make a significant contribution to that biodiversity mass and hedgerows can act as corridors for colonisation further afield.   But,  despite protection and regulations governing hedgerow removal there are still those who seek to act out-with procedures and regulations.

Does it matter?  Are the pastoral landscapes doomed to be fondly described as a thing of the past, lowland haymeadows awash with a fabulous flora and associated invertebrate assemblage all but childhood memories consigned to natural historians academically penned obituaries in colourful tomes such as the just published Meadows by George Peterken (British Wildlife Publishing), no mention in there of Doncaster’s fritillaries, goldilocks or other such rarities still hanging on in forgotten corners.

 

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