A developer is under fire from councillors and residents after clearing hedgerow believed to be ancient woodland.
Home developer Thakeham bought fields south of Folders Lane in Burgess Hill last year but have been criticised for removing the hedgerows during ‘routine site clearance’.
Mid Sussex District Council has asked the company to replace the hedges in fourteen days – or face a formal Hedgerow Replacement Notice.
Jerry Batte, of Woodward Close, Burgess Hill said Thakeham have ‘desecrated’ the fields.
“Prior to this the fields were full of a wide range of wildlife including owls, bats and deer, as well as numerous species of birds that nested in their hedgerows,” he said.
“Shame on you, Thakeham Homes.”
Shame on you, Thakeham Homes.Jerry Batte
Mr Batte said it looked like ‘every bit’ of hedging in the fields has been cut, burnt or bulldozed, adding that the developers have also put up wire fencing and barbed wire.
Sue Collins, Mr Batte’s neighbour, said she is ‘sure’ the company will want to build on the land in the future.
“Thakeham Homes did not only fence the fields, but destroyed ancient hedges which were home to a variety of wildlife,” she told the Middy.
“I feel deeply saddened by the developer’s seemingly callous attitude towards the wildlife and worry that it is a sign of the times. Nowadays we increasingly seem to live in a disposable society, but surely living creatures cannot be part of this.”
A spokeswoman for Thakeham said: “As a responsible land owner and developer, we would never knowingly conduct activity that harmed wildlife or their habitat.
“After acquiring the site, we erected agricultural stock proof fencing and have undertaken routine site clearance which sought to remove the considerable overgrowth and brush.
“This is not activity that requires permission from the local authority and is usual land husbandry for agricultural land.
“We later received contact from Mid Sussex District Council who asked us to stop work and requested an assessment of the site works be carried out by one of their officers.
“In accordance with this request, we stopped work immediately and no replanting notices or actions have been taken by the council to date.”
Cllr Norman Webster, cabinet member for planning at Mid Sussex District Council said Thakeham should have consulted with the council before the work was carried out.
He said: “Local residents contacted us recently about this issue and our tree preservation officer visited the site to assess the damage.
“Hedgerows are protected by Hedgerow Regulations and it is clear from remains at Folder’s Lane that the developer should have consulted with the local planning authority before they carried out any work.
“Mid Sussex District Council has requested that the developer replace all the hedgerows which have been removed. The developer has 14 days to carry out this request and if they do not our legal team has been instructed to issue them with a formal Hedgerow Replacement Notice.”