Protected hedge could be cut down due to Bristol City Council mistake

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A protected hedge on Bristol’s last working farm is at risk because of a mistake from the council.

The hedge, at Yew Tree Farm on Bridgewater Road, runs for hundreds of metres and has been there for more than 200 years according to farmer Catherine Withers.

It’s also a site of nature conservation interest (SNCI) which is a designation used by local authorities in the UK. This is because it is home to a wide variety of birds, butterflies, and insects.

Catherine said: “We have hedge protection laws for a reason - we shouldn’t just rip them up whenever we like.”

The hedge has been allowed to grow with minimal management to “create a wonderful wildlife corridor”, according to Catherine.

Catherine has said she's angry about the mistake made by the council

Despite this, Bristol City Council has given the landowner the go-ahead to cut part of the hedge down to build a 12-foot gate.

It has now admitted giving the landowners permission was a mistake but due to the time that has passed, they cannot go back on the decision.

Catherine said: “I’m baffled by it, I’m shocked and devastated and upset that the one authority that should be there to help protect these hedges and land, didn’t do their job.

“The landlords can march in at any time now and rip out a section of this hedge and that’s it gone forever, it’s really mind blowing and upsetting.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Marvin Rees said: “We’re deeply disappointed that officers have taken decisions and actions in this case without any political input or oversight nor the due care and attention we expect.

“The Mayor has instructed the planning service to ensure that the appropriate level of ecological due diligence is undertaken and that officers work with the landowner to mitigate the damage of any future action.

“The Mayor’s Office are conducting inquiries into how this situation has arisen to seek assurances that any issues with process or procedure are fixed immediately.”

Now Catherine is speaking to solicitors about what to do next, but has said it could cost £2,500 just to get advice from a barrister about getting an injunction.

She added: “I’m terrified of watching nature being destroyed from my kitchen window. The potential is devastating.”