Heavy-handed hedge cutter angers residents

WILDLIFE around Sudbury and Great Cornard is under threat from council hedge cutting that has left some areas looking “like a war zone”, according to residents, writes Elliot Pinkham.

Babergh District Council’s maintenance of hedges has come under fire for leaving areas stripped of greenery which provides habitats for birds and other species.

Susan Clark, who has lived in Uplands Road in Sudbury for more than 40 years, noticed the heavy-handed approach used along the footpath from Uplands Road play area, which runs behind Woodhall School and Sudbury Upper School playing fields.

“The council has completely destroyed the hedges – it is like a war zone,” she said.

“It has taken every bit of hedge right down and all the berries and birds’ food for the winter has gone.”

The work, which was carried out earlier this month, has exposed litter which had been hidden from view in the hedgerow.

“There is always a disgusting amount of litter from the school in those hedges and it has now been exposed, shredded and left there – it is just so unsightly,” said Mrs Clark.

“These contractors have been told to do this at an inappropriate time and it is illegal to do this work in the summer months.”

George Millins, from Great Waldingfield, undertakes numerous conservation projects aimed at preserving habitats for butterflies, birds and other species.

He noticed hedgerows in Sheepshead Hill, Shawlands Avenue and Newton Road had been heavily trimmed recently.

“It just shouldn’t be happening, it is bad management,” he said. “The hedges across the area have been flailed and we’re still in bird nesting season.

“At a time when our wildlife is under severe pressure due to developments and we have seen lots of local extinction of all sorts of species, this is still going on.”

A Babergh District Council spokeswoman said hedges cut in June or July and November or December last year were examined to minimise disturbance to nesting birds, with cutting of hedges deemed likely to cause problems was altered to July and November or December.

“By moving the cutting to July, we are doing our best to avoid disturbing nesting birds ,” said the spokeswoman.

“If we felt the hedge would not become a hazard we reduced the number of cuts from two to one and this would take place in August or September.

“We would like to make it clear that if there isn’t any evidence of nesting birds it is not ‘illegal’ to cut hedgerows.”