Silent Spring

In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote her famous "Silent Spring" - postulating that our excessive use of chemicals in agriculture would ultimately eliminate all the wild birds from our countryside. In event, that turned out to be a somewhat pessimistic prognosis, although populations have indeed significantly declined in the interim and some once common species are now rarities.

And many other creatures - not least several of our essential wild bee species - are becoming extinct. So in the face of increasing urbanisation and the ever growing encroachment of "transport projects" such as the proposed high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, it's crucial to maintain diminishing habitats in good condition.

ancient hedgerow before receiving council careHowever my borough council have have found a surer and cheaper way to ensure us a silent Spring - at least in the short term. On 21st February 2011 this ancient hedgerow was hacked back to its bare trunks. A tractor appeared that morning with a flail cutter (a sort of huge cylinder mowing machine) on a long hydraulic arm, and proceeded down the hedge line mashing all the established growth from the ground up to a height of about 2 metres. By the time it had finished, nothing much was was left of the hedge.

The mangled remains of several years' growth - covered with new shoots and buds about to break - were left lying where they fell, partially covering deep ruts made by the tyres of the tractor.


ancient hedgerow after receiving council careI complained to the council about this wanton destruction, and for several days it seemed as if I'd been listened to. But around a week later the tractor returned to complete the job. So this year there will be nowhere for birds to nest, no hawthorn blossom for our increasingly scarce bumble bees, and no fruit to supply autumn and winter sustenance for numerous wild creatures. And the hedge will take at least three to four years to recover sufficiently for normal life to be restored for the wide range of animals that rely on it for home and food.

Well done I say - provided your intention is to render the natural environment barren and eliminate all those pesky wild animals. And if you can do this at the tax payers' expense, so much the better. No, I don't - I object with all my heart and being, as must anyone who doesn't want to see Rachel Carson's nightmare become a reality.

I've been offered a meeting with the council to discuss my concerns, but I'm not at all sure what the outcome will be. We'll have to wait and see.