Outrage as Environment Agency plans to mutilate local Nature Reserve

The
national battle of protecting England’s hedgerows has reached York.
The fight that started at the beginning of this month over a hedge in
Lincolnshire, when a group of local residents released a video showing birds
trapped beneath the nets and challenged the standard practice, that prevents
birds from nesting.

The local culprit threating the placing
of hedgerow netting and hard pruning along
with the removal of an Owl Box in a protected cornfield at Rawcliffe
Meadows is nobody less than the Environment Agency. The Agency who claim to
create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable
development, is planning to use the cornfield as a works compound for the
upgrade the Clifton Ings barrier bank. The relevant planning application is still
pending and not approved by the City of York planning committee yet. York
Natural Environment Trust who manage the Site of Special Scientific Interest
(SSSI) under the Natural England Countryside Stewardship scheme objected to
both planning applications based on flaws on evaluation, ecological and
mitigation terms.

Dr Mick Phythian, of York Natural Environment Trust, said
“Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows have taken advice and believe the
proposed actions to be unlawful as they are enabling works for a development
requiring planning consent which has not yet been obtained and is by no means
assured of receiving consent. Due to the lack of detailed planning by the
Environment Agency, they want to cover all eventualities, but that is using a
sledgehammer in an ecologically sensitive area which has been managed and
restored over many years.”

Green
Cllr Lars Kramm, who call in the planning application, said “I am very
concerned that the Environment Agency creates a fait accompli with a complete
lack of proportionality or necessity. Hedgerows are very important for our
domestic biodiversity. They are bursting of life and are the rainforests of the
British Isles and we should take care of them.”

A
petition calling for netting hedgerows to become a criminal offence has more
than 150,000 signatures and a campaign has been started asking people to send
photographs of netting to their local authority, including the #NestingNotNets
hashtag, with details about the location.

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