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Police move to protect hedgerows

hedgerow in spring
Hedgerow in spring

Officers have intervened following reports that hedgerows were being removed from Leach Fields.

Alerted by local residents, who feared for the safety of nesting birds, PCSO Louise Luxford and PCSO Dave Wardell from the Hatfield Rural Neighbourhood Team visited the site in order to investigate the alleged damage.

In an email to the two local residents who raised the alarm, PCSO Wardell said that they had spoken to those working on the site.

"They have agreed that they will not touch any well established hedges, thick hedgerow, or large or thick coppice.

"I have said that they can remove the odd patches of 2 - 3 foot high bramble that dot the area but not the thicker more established areas of bramble.

"They may move the odd small sapling where they are happy there is no nesting taking place.

"I am aware that nesting birds are heavily protected and I have successfully prosecuted a developer previously for this," he said.

PCSO Wardell said those working on the site said that if they had to move saplings they would "do their best to replant them in a more suitable area."

Evidence of nature conservation sought

Police are now appealing to local residents to come forward with any local records they may have that indicate the importance of the site in terms of nature conservation.

They say such information may assist in a future police investigation.

"This could include pictures and logs kept by wildlife fans - this is where local reports/pictures will come in handy," PCSO Wardell explained.

The future of the area had been uncertain since the turn of the year after Leach Homes refused to extend the lease on the land.

Gobions Woodland Trust (GWT) had been renting the land for use as a nature conservation area for the benefit of wildlife and people.

Leach Fields are part of the Moffats Meadows wildlife site, WS150, as designated in the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council district plan.

They have been part of the regular surveys of butterflies that recorded such rare species as the White Letter Hairstreak.

Grass snakes, a protected species, have also been recorded, along with more than 100 species of native grasses and flowers.

A pond in the north west corner of Leach Fields was cut into on Monday and had drained by Wednesday.

PCSO Wardell said the reason given for the clearing of the land is that it is to be used for animal grazing which needs proper boundaries set.

If anyone has any information to help PCSO Wardell in his enquiries, they are asked to contact the local community police team on 01707-638112 or 08453300222.

You can discuss the Leach Fields in this site's forum.

26 March 2009

Related News
Security patrols for Leach Fields - 26 March 2009
Leach Fields diggers damaged - 25 March 2009
Gobions footbridges removed - 24 March 2009
Leach Fields entrances blocked - 24 March 2009
Bid to save protected trees - 24 March 2009
Developer blocks Leach Fields - 23 March 2009
Leach Fields lease ends - 21 December 2008

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