A WINKLEIGH resident has raised concerns that the removal of parts of the hedgebanks at the High Moor View estate currently under construction in the village is too extreme and damaging to local wildlife.

Penny Griffiths, who described the famous Devon hedgebanks as the county’s version of the Amazon rainforest, has argued that the removal of parts of the hedgebank to create access points into the new estate is resulting in a loss of Devon culture and is adversely affecting the wildlife that rely on the hedgebank for food and protection.

She said that she believed the problem was Devon-wide: “In Devon they need houses to be built but it needs to be sustainable and not damaging to biodiversity. Hedgerows should be protected. There’s a climate emergency in the Devon landscape and it’s brought about by ripping up hedges. Some see the hedges as a nuisance but these hedges should be built into the land.

“I think it’s serious. Where is all the water and the car exhaust fumes going to go? The plant roots suck up water and the leaves remove the exhaust fumes from the air.”

Mrs Griffiths has also voiced fears over the future of protected species, such as dormice, that live in the hedgebanks and worries that the work has displaced the animals or put their lives in danger as they attempt to cross the access points without any of the protection provided by the hedgebank.

A previous survey of the hedgebank revealed that a wide range of plants called the hedgebank home and was capable of supporting dormice —a protected species.

However Allison Homes, which is developing the site, has said that only around 70 metres of the hedge has been removed in order to create an access point to the new estate, which is wide to ensure visibility for drivers entering and exiting the estate.

The estate also has two pre-existing access points for a public footpath which were used as access points for construction machinery while the main access point was built.

Allison Homes has said that since the main access point was built, construction vehicles have not used the footpath entrance.

Andy Cattermole, head of planning at Allison Homes South West, said that several such complaints had been investigated by outside bodies before and all had concluded that the company had not breached any regulations.

He added that the company had also tried to mitigate any damage done by planting a new Devon hedgebank (approximately 400-500m in length) along the back of the estate. The company has also replanted eight trees, originally from Buckland Brewer and in danger of being felled due to construction work, in the new High Moor View orchard and there is a new pond on the site.

Mr Cattermole said: “It’s not a case that we are ignoring (environmental concerns) and we are not in it just to develop and make money.”

Allison Homes is working on several other housing developments across Devon including Weavers Place in North Tawton.