NATURE lovers have criticised the removal of a section of hedgerow along the edge of a Milford housing development, claiming it had been used by sparrows.
Located along the boundary of the 42-home scheme, the hedgerow was cut back to ground level last week to make way for a new cycle path. Developer Pennyfarthing Homes has since confirmed the work was undertaken in agreement with Natural England.
However, neighbours say the hedgerow was cut back without notice to the community and its removal could affect local bird populations.
One neighbour who contacted the A&T said: “The hedgerows have been in situ for years. They are frequented by the local sparrows for breeding and nesting.
“They were then completely destroyed right In the middle of nesting season. There has been no planning notice displayed or any warning given. It looks appalling and is a complete disregard for wildlife.”
Alongside the homes, the site – now called The Swifts – includes public open space, a children’s play area, allotments, a car park for neighbouring Milford Primary School, and a cycleway.
Planning permission for the development was granted last April, after a government planning inspector overturned New Forest District Council’s refusal of the scheme on the basis that it did not provide enough affordable housing.
A spokesperson for NFDC confirmed: “The removal of hedgerow is dealt with by licence from Natural England who will have satisfied themselves in the grant of this licence that there are no implications for wildlife including nesting birds.
“The developers have confirmed that these works have been undertaken in accordance with the Hedgerow Management Plan, with ecological supervision and under the licence that they have from Natural England.”
Steve Tyrell, construction director from Pennyfarthing Homes, said: “The hedgerow at The Swifts development has been removed to allow space for the new cycle path to be built for the community’s use. This has been carried out in strict accordance with approved plans and a European Protected Species Licence issued by Natural England.”
Pennyfarthing Homes technical manager Sean Barry continued: “Our ecology consultants have been involved throughout the process who confirmed that no wildlife were nesting in the hedgerow prior to its removal.
“At this stage, the hedgerow has been cut back to just above ground level, so not to disturb dormice hibernation habitat below ground. This hedgerow base will then be translocated in May after hibernation season.
“Should the translocation of the hedgerow prove unsuccessful then a new hedgerow will be planted to replace.”