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The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has refused consent to Mr James Wright for a conifer hedge on registered common land at the former Old Chequers pub near Flamstead in Hertfordshire. The society and Flamstead Parish Council were among the nine objectors to the application for works on common land, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006.
The 97-metre long hedge has already been planted and therefore the application was retrospective. The decision was made by Helen Slade of the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the environment secretary.
Ms Slade rejected the application because the hedge was of non-native conifers, Thuja plicata or Western Red Cedar, which can grow to a height of more than 40 metres.
She considered this to be an inappropriate species for nature conservation benefit and incompatible with the status of the land as common. The land has traditionally had an open aspect and been freely available to the public. The hedge destroyed that openness and could deter the public from enjoying the land because the resulting seclusion presents a potential risk to users’ safety.
We are delighted at the inspector’s forthright and unequivocal rejection of this application. The hedge is an eyesore on this attractive common which is loved by local people. The conifers are ugly and suburban and totally out of keeping with the surroundings.
The hedge has been refused consent and therefore it is unlawful. We are calling on Mr Wright to remove it forthwith.