A WEST Devon resident is voicing their concerns over a planning application that seeks to remove hundreds of metres of Devon hedgerow.

Conservationist and local resident Will Walker-Smith is appealing for greater clarity over a South West Water planning application to lay a 4km pipe from the River Tamar to a pumping station to help refill Roadford reservoir. The plan would involve removing 324 metres of hedgerow and Will is concerned about the loss of these species-rich ancient hedgerows.

The Roadford Pumped Storage Project is an infrastructure project in place to refill the local reservoir and increase water resilience in the South West. The pipe would be installed between the hamlet of Gatherley and a site adjacent to the River Lyd near Lifton.

For this work to take place, 27 hedgerows (324m) will need to be removed which in the application SWW state will be replanted with ‘like-for-like species.’

Will, who supports the application in terms of the need to prevent water shortages, is looking to the water company to clarify how they will restore and monitor the replanted hedgerows once construction work is complete over fears for the impact on biodiversity.

Will said: “I originally saw the proposal in the Tavistock Times planning section and thought oh blimey! My inital shock was that hedgerows are very emotive as over the years hundreds of miles of hedgerows have been removed across the country. You didn’t used to need planning permission, but now you do because they have such a high value in terms of biodiversity such as what lives in them such as plants, insects, or in terms of being a food source or cover for nesting birds.

“I am aware of how incredibly important hedgerows and banks are.”

Adding that SWW have completed a thorough ecological report as part of the planning documents.

“When I looked into why they’re doing it, they have a fair reason, that they want to increase the resilience of the water supply for the South West, but they need to provide clarity as to how the new hedgerows will be monitored.’

He continued that he wished to draw people’s attention to the planning application to increase awareness of the destruction that will take place and the importance of accountability.

“People need to be aware of what will be happening as it will cause major destruction to the wildlife. It is detroying something and you need to be held to account.

‘If we hadn’t looked I just don’t know how people would know. By which time it’s too late.

“Hedgerows don’t grow overnight. Once a hedgerow is gone it’s gone.

“I’d like them to come up with a five-year plan so that we know the temporary destruction is going to mitigated and repaired and then monitored in the future.”

Will who previously worked as a landscaper and also manages 44 acres of common land in Brentor for charity Brentor Commons Association, hopes that when he submits his comment on the application, that his queries will be answered.

The application has been supported by Lifton Parish Council.

The application (2457/23/HRN) can be found on the West Devon Borough Council planning section and the application is currently open for comment.

South West Water were approached for a comment but couldn’t provide one at the time of going to press.