Hedge that's '200 years old' cut at Bristol's last working farm despite protests

There is now a hole in the hedge, which sits on private land.

An historic hedge on Bristol's last working farm has had a section carved out of it.

Private workmen arrived on the morning of Tuesday 7 November and began to cut a gap in the hedgerow, before a fence was then installed in it's place.

This is despite multiple attempts to protect the hedgerow, which is on Yew Tree Farm in Bedminster Down.

The hedge is believed to be around 200-years-old and is also a site of nature conservation interest (SNCI), because it is home to a wide variety of birds, butterflies, and insects.

The landowner said the work was necessary to give them access to their land and was done with permission from the council.

Catherine Withers, a tenant farmer who runs Yew Tree Farm, said: "I saw about ten people in the field and there were a couple of people in red helmets, so I was getting worried.

"I thought maybe a group of school kids were looking at the hedge and then I realised, 'oh, no. It is what I have dreaded.'

"It's an absolute tragedy, really. They emailed me last month and asked if they could access the fields and I gave them permission. I've always said I would give them permission to access the fields, so this is really underhand," she added.

"This is an ancient, boundary hedgerow", Catherine said. "It's the city of Bristol boundary hedgerow, it's been here for hundreds of years. It's never been breached before like this.

"I'm absolutely destroyed."

Workmen were seen installing a fence in place of the hedge.

The work comes just weeks after plans to build homes on grazing land east of Yew Tree Farm were scrapped under Bristol City Council's latest 15-year housing blueprint.

Marvin Rees, the city's mayor, has previously vowed to protect the farm from housing development.

But in a mistake made by Bristol City Council earlier this year, the landowner was given permission to build a 12-foot gate.

The local authority has since admitted that it made a mistake but due to the time that has passed, it cannot go back on the decision.

Mr Rees has since said instructed planning officers to "work with the landowner to mitigate the damage of any future action."

In a statement on behalf of the landowner, a spokesperson said: "Longmoor Land Ltd, which has owned and farmed the 13 acres of farmland around (but separate to) Yew Tree Farm since 1959 has today, in exact accordance with the consent granted by Bristol City Council and overseen by professional surveyors and ecologists, created a new 12-foot access in the hedgerow from the lane to its own land solely for agricultural purposes.

"The previous access to the field had been via land owned by Mrs Withers of Yew Tree Farm (who had grazed the Longmoor Land fields under a grazing licence).

"However, since that grazing licence was terminated last year, a new access is now required, and this has been put in place today.

"Longmoor Land is at the same time planting 250 feet of new hedgerow in the same field, replacing the amount of hedgerow removed c.20 times over."