The farmer behind controversial plans to rip up seven miles of hedgerow from the Shropshire countryside has told protesters he has no intention of removing it all.
Landowner Fraser Jones has applied to Shropshire Council to remove the hedgerow from his Marrington Farm, in Chirbury, near Shrewsbury, so he can use larger machinery and grow more crops on the land.
But he told a packed meeting at Chirbury Parish Hall last night that parts of the hedgerow would remain and trees on the land would also be untouched.
Mr Jones, who bought the farm a month ago, said: “The fields at the moment are too small for my machinery. My intention is not to remove the entire hedge, but it was easier to make the application to remove all of it and then work out what I need to do. I also will not remove any trees.”
More than 80 people attended the meeting, which was called by Councillor Heather Kidd, Shropshire Council member for Chirbury and Worthen
Protesters say the hedgerow is ‘historic’ and home to rare birds and mammals including barn owls, skylarks and cuckoos.
Councillor Kidd said: “This is an extraordinary application to remove seven miles of hedgerow. Officers at the council have told me they have never seen anything on this scale before.
“The application says this is not a historic hedgerow or one that has rare wildlife. I disagree.
“We have a wealth of evidence to show that it is historic. Removing it is completely unacceptable, it would destroy the look of this beautiful part of Shropshire forever.
Nigel Brown, who lives in Burnt House, next to the Marrington Farm estate, said: “There is no question that this hedge is more than 100 years old.
“The wildlife that is in our garden is the wildlife that uses this hedgerow.
“We have had treecreepers, skylarks, cuckoos, yellow hammers and kingfishers. There is an awful lot of wildlife dependant on this hedgerow and a lot of it is protected.”
Rob McBride, a volunteer tree hunter for the Wildlife Trust, added: “After a short walk I’ve found a dozen trees in the area that are worth recording. They all provide a brilliant habitat for wildlife.”Subscribe to our Newsletter