Missing Hedges in the Quantocks National Landscape

For wildlife habitats, as migration corridors, for biodiversity, preventing soil erosion, providing carbon sinks, and as part of the heritage of our landscape it seems everybody loves a good hedge. 

Local MP and Environment Minister Rebecca Pow recently said:

“Hedgerows have long-shaped our beautiful countryside and provide homes for a huge variety of birds and wildlife, while delivering clear benefits for water, soil and the climate.”

Photo: Hannah Branch

But within the farmland of the National Landscape hedges have been disappeared.

When Friends of the Quantocks became aware of a missing length of hedge two years ago we immediately reported it to the Council Planning department.

Removing a hedge is a crime, and it is the Council’s responsibility to enforce the law.

We provided them with aerial photographs, Tithe maps, OS maps, streetview images, an archaeologist’s lidar survey and naturalists’ assessments of the images. Astonishingly the Council refused to act, citing ‘lack of evidence’ and have refused to budge from that position ever since. We have now gone through the complaints process and have a case open with the local Government Ombudsman.

Friends of the Quantocks are here to protect the landscape of the Quantocks and we cannot look the other way when we see it being literally bulldozed, even if Somerset Council would like to. We  are also looking at other offences that must have been committed at the same time like the destruction of wildlife and the disturbance of nesting birds to see if we increase the pressure. We need pursue this issue and make sure that there is a real deterrent for those who would casually destroy parts of the Quantock environment.

The National Picture

CPRE the Countryside Charity recently published their commissioned report on how best to deliver Defra’s hedgerow targets “Aiming High for Hedgerows” – read it here.

Sadly, the Quantocks is highlighted as a high priority area for action. All the more reason for us to challenge landowners who blatantly disregard the law and take out our most precious established hedgerows.

We’ll keep you informed of our progress.

Vernon Hughes and Tim Whittingham, Friends of the Quantocks committee members

Photo: Hannah Branch