Hedge at centre of wildlife row in Hartlepool is being cut down

The hedge off Worset Lane being cut down on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
The hedge off Worset Lane being cut down on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

Work has started to remove a hedge at the centre of a row over the use of controversial wildlife netting.

The hedgerow on Worset Lane, Hartlepool, was recently covered in green netting on behalf of developers seeking planning permission for up to eight new homes on adjoining land.

The covered hedge row along Worset Lane, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

The covered hedge row along Worset Lane, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

Chris Pattison, a former Environment Agency environment protection officer, objected to it claiming animals including birds could get trapped inside.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee deferred making a decision on the housing proposals last Wednesday so that councillors could view the site for themselves.

On Thursday, work started to remove the netting and cut down the hedge.

While the hedges are linked to the development, the council has confirmed to the Mail that their removal does not require planning permission.

A report that went to the planning committee stated the applicant has said they need to be lost to widen the road for access to the proposed housing.

A council ecologist said it did not qualify under the Hedgerow Regulations for the protection of important hedgerows in the countryside.

Aside from a magnesium limestone wall which supports wall butterfly the ecologist stated: “Otherwise the site is made up of rank, neutral grassland which is not a conservation priority and I do not require its loss to be mitigated.”

The use of the netting has been the subject of controversy nationally, with campaigners claiming animals can get trapped inside.

Mr Pattison previously said: “This type of netting favours development over the protection of wildlife.”

But applicant Stephen Litherland, managing director of Acland Homes defended its use and said the main risk to wildlife came from protestors slashing the netting and letting wildlife get inside.

He said: “The reason that the netting has been erected is to stop birds nesting in the hedges and is a responsible method used up and down the country by developers so we are able to plan site works without disturbing the wildlife.”

Three letters of objection have been received by the council over the self-build housing proposals, raising issues such as highway implications and volume of traffic.

A decision is expected to be made a the will be made when the committee meets again next month.