Vital wildlife habitats will not be adequately protected under proposed new Development & Planning Authority laws.

The DPA is proposing an overhaul of what types of development work can go ahead without having to apply for planning permission and this is set to be debated in the States next week.

An addition to this list is the removal of a hedge or part of a hedge, as long as it is replaced by new planting of native species within two months. Scant conditions have been set – in that it must not be done during nesting season, from 1 March to 31 July.

But the DPA doesn’t seem to have considered that hedges are a food source in their timing recommendations for hedge replacement.

It’s good that the DPA has thought about birds nesting, which is great, but what about autumn, when birds rely on berries to get through the winter and when one of the only food sources for pollinators is a flowering ivy hedge?

‘The proposal should include the best time to replace a hedge – December to February.’

We the Pollinator Project do applaud the DPA for including the term ‘native species’ in the proposed legislation but said the document would be improved by the inclusion of a list of allowable plants.

This may hopefully stop the bad habit of property developers putting in the cheapest non-native hedge like the awful Griselinia that has almost no use to wildlife.

Another concern for us is the apparent green light for property owners to do away with old hedges.

Does the DPA mean it’s OK to remove a dead hedge or one people just don’t like the look of – one that could be brilliant for wildlife?

The proposal also doesn’t say people have to replace the hedge with one of the same size. As hedges have twice the carbon sequestration properties of trees due to their shape, we could lose carbon sequestration properties for years if we lose many big hedges and they are replaced with tiddly plants that take years to grow.

Hedges get better over time. They start off being a man-made thing and grow into a natural mini ecosystem.

We’d never advocate the removal of an old, tangled hedge.

We praise the DPA’s proposals to save resources and cut red tape, she said, but this should never be at the expense of the environment.

Perhaps the States would like to see our alternative wording:

‘A dead hedge within domestic curtilage that is deemed no longer useful to wildlife by the DPA/approved environmental agent can be replaced by a Guernsey native species of the same size, from the DPA approved list, that has been grown with pesticide-free, peat-free methods’.

Read the full Guernsey Press article

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