Dispute over Dereham hedgerow

The footpath off Rolling Pin land in Dereham has had its hedgerow cut back, angering the local resid

The footpath off Rolling Pin land in Dereham has had its hedgerow cut back, angering the local residents - From left, Andrew Baylis, Jack Davis, Denise Baylis and David Noble. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Anger is mounting at the destruction of large sections of hedgerow running along a well-used footpath in Dereham.

The footpath off Rolling Pin land in Dereham has had its hedgerow cut back, angering the local resid

The footpath off Rolling Pin land in Dereham has had its hedgerow cut back, angering the local residents - Andrew Baylis with part of the trimmed hedgerow. Picture: Matthew Usher.

People who regularly enjoy walking along the Rolling Pin Lane path, which borders the Vicarage Meadows, said they were horrified to see the hedge being hacked back right to the ground in places, leaving treestumps and piles of wood chippings in its place.

The work was carried out under the orders of the town council who said the aim was to improve the hedge over a number of years.

Clerk Tony Needham said: 'There are a high number of elms in this hedgerow and since Dutch Elm disease they grow but get infected and die after a few years while still quite small. This is a cyclical process with the elm continuing to regenerate from the roots.

'The work we had carried out was to remove these dead elm (and any other dead hedging) but if the guys carrying out the work felt it was needed to coppice sections then they would coppice as they felt appropriate.

'If the hedge plants were alive then they will regrow.

'We will keep an eye on the hedge and if sections need replanting or further coppicing then this will be looked at over the next few years.'

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But Andrew Baylis, who has lived in The Grove next to the path for the past five years, said healthy plants had unnecessarily been ripped out including some he had planted himself.

'It has not been managed well, just totally butchered,' he said.

'Everyone I meet is very upset about it. One lady said she had walked the path for 45 years and was in tears about it. Fair enough remove the dead trees but the work has been totally random. In places the hedgerow was about 12ft deep and it has all gone so the bats and hedgehogs will have lost their habitats and they won't come back. Now children are running over it so it will never regrow. It's a complete mess.'

David Noble, who also lives in The Grove, said the contractors had left the ivy on the remaining trees and treestumps which was likely to do more damage than dead elm.

'Why cut down healthy trees?' he said.

How do you feel about the hedgerow on Rolling Pin Lane? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.