A LANDOWNER has been told for the fourth time that he cannot remove hedgerow in order to allow access for larger machinery to his fields, writes Kerenza Moore.

Christopher Morgan’s most recent planning application to create a new entrance to a field at Drakewalls in Gunnislake has been refused by Cornwall Council.

Mr Morgan says that the fields were previously cut and baled by a local farmer using equipment from the pre 1980s. This person has now retired, he says, and the existing entrance with its limited slew is too narrow and unsuitable for modern commercial machinery.

The scheme refused by the Council would have involved removing just over eight metres of hedgerow, and installing a four metre steel gate.

The applicant had said that he would reinstate the hedgerow to be removed within the field itself, as well as creating a Cornish stone hedge either side of the new gate.

“The new field entrance will provide safe access for farm and service machinery,” he states.

“Without the grass cut, there is a potential risk of fire in the summer. There are high voltage electrical cables running across the fields and poles with transformers in the hedge row. A larger gateway, as proposed on the planning application, would potentially eliminate a risk of fire.”

Tree officer James Gregory had recommended objection, and described the application as a “duplicate” of a plan previously submitted and refused in August 2023.

The officer at that time had said that the hedgerow, being more than 20m in length and more than 30 years old, constitued an ‘important hedge’ in terms of the Hedgerow Regulations 1987. The presumption would always be in favour of retaining such a hedgerow, unless evidence were provided to justify its removal.

Calstock Parish Council had objected to the application of summer 2023, but had said that it would support the most recent plan, on the condition that the Cornish hedgerow were made a condition of approval and that a Forestry Officer oversaw the work.

Under the local authority ‘five day protocol’, officers explained their objections to the Parish Council: the proposed hedgerow removal would have a notable adverse impact on the Tamar Valley landscape. Following this, the Parish Council agreed to go with the officers’ recommendation to refuse the application.

In a report detailing the reasons for refusing the scheme, planning offier Ellen Lawrence said that “little detail has been provided regarding the justification for the removal of the important hedgerow, only that it is required to create access to the field”.

“There is an existing access point in to the field. Whilst it may be the case that the existing access is not adequate for the applicant’s intended purposes, this does not indicate exceptional circumstances to justify removal.

“The hedgerow is considered to provide a valuable contribution to the character and visual amenities of the surrounding area and the National Landscape. Whilst it is acknowledged that the section of hedgerow to be removed is small-scale in the wider context of the National Landscape, it is the replication of these small changes that have an erosive, cumulative impact resulting in harm to the historic landscape character.

“No wider social or economic public benefits or overriding justification have been identified to outweigh the harm.”