Dear Editor

The residents of Leopold Corner on the Fairfield Gardens estate are seeking support from the wider community in our bid to protect the hedgerow separating ourselves from the new development known as Fairfield Meadows to the south.

The developers of Fairfield Meadows, Campbell, Buchanan and George, have planning permission to remove a part of the hedgerow that runs behind our houses in order to allow access through to the Fairfield Park Lower School site at Ruskin Drive, but we understand that this permission was granted on the premise that the majority of the hedgerow would be preserved and protected.

We have now been informed that the developers are seeking further permission to remove the entire hedgerow. In response, we have applied to the local authority for a tree preservation order, but have not yet received a response. 

Our first concern centres around bat conservation. There is a large population of bats that roost in the tree-line and are in danger of being disturbed by the planned removal of the hedgerow. The Bat Conservation Trust’s article ‘Bats and Trees’ states that “In the UK, bats and their roosts are protected by law meaning that it is illegal to damage, destroy or disturb bats or their roost sites. […] This legislation is still applicable regardless of the presence of a TPO and felling licences.”

Crest Nicholson have gone as far as incorporating bat boxes in every home to prevent the already declining habitat for bats in the area. The removal of the hedgerow will affect their survival dramatically.

Aside from the risk to the endangered bat population, other wildlife must be considered. The Soil Association has stated that “UK hedgerows bustle with life. In fact, 130 of the wildlife species listed as priorities under the government’s Biodiversity Action Plan live and thrive in hedgerows. They include the harvest mouse, foraging bats, roosting birds and the nation’s favourite animal, hedgehogs […] Hedgehogs are an important ‘indicator species’ meaning that their health is reflective of our ecosystem’s health in general. A decline in hedgehogs is in turn likely to reflect a reduction in vital habitats and the insect population too”. The residents currently have plans to create hedgehog homes/highways in our back fences to support the hedgehog community that lives and thrives in the hedgerow. 

It goes without saying that the tree-line also adds to the overall appeal of living on our development, which benefits from being situated amongst the protected greenbelt. The hedgerow is established and forms part of that greenbelt. It is also a clear boundary, which the Stotfold Historical Society thinks has existed since the 1850s. Although the developers suggest that they will replace the felled trees with spaced out, semi-mature trees, this will not be an adequate replacement, at least for many years. It is important that we continue to preserve the natural amenity of the area in line with CBC’s own Community Plan and its commitment to “Local Character and Environment”.

We also have further concerns around the impact on climate change and the risk of flooding that could result from removing the established hedgerow, particularly since our properties lie adjacent to a river – all of which have been detailed to CBC. 

We are now seeking wider support and have put together a petition to protect the hedgerow/tree-line – we very much hope that many of our fellow Fairfield residents will take the time to sign it.

Kind regards,

Anna McCormack, for and on behalf of the residents of Leopold Corner