Hedgerows provide sustainable drainage, reduce air pollution and provide valuable food and shelter for wild birds, mammals and invertebrates. One kilometre of hedgerow may absorb up to 500 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide a year for decades.
Since WWII thousands of miles of hedgerows have been grubbed out across the UK adding to the pressures on our diminishing wild life and polluted environment.
Persimmon Homes’ cavalier removal of 300 metres of mature hedge boundary in the Parish of Killinghall is a sad reflection of the times we are living through. The quality of our environment and the very existence of its threatened wildlife count for nothing in this dash for ‘growth at any price’.
The stumps of the several standard trees, removed along with the hedgerow, bear evidence of annual growth rings ranging from 70 to possibly 120 years of age.
The wildlife corridor from Harrogate into the countryside has been severed. Clear felling of the trees and hedgerow on this scale in April could not have been worse timing, depriving birds of scarce nesting sites and bats of feeding areas.
This early phase of the, already controversial, housing scheme contrasts starkly with the new housing along the A59. Here, in similar circumstances, the developer has achieved access through the ancient hedge with minimal damage, preserving its wildlife potential and softening the impact of the new housing in its rural setting.
What could be more attractive from a house buyer’s perspective than to move into a huge new estate with at least some vestige of its rural heritage in the form of an ancient boundary hedge?
It will be many decades, if ever, before Persimmon’s 600 houses on Pennypot Lane have mature trees and hedges to mellow this major urban scar in its exposed location at the top of Killinghall Moor.
Henry Pankhurst and the Harrogate Civic Society have done a great service to Killinghall and Harrogate in drawing a line in the sand.
Bearing in mind the many thousands of houses yet to be built in Harrogate’s countryside this environmental outrage must be the last – and the developers must be held to account.
Keith Wilkinson MBE