CASEBOOK: Appeal cases - Trees and Hedgerows - Removal of hedge agreed on public health grounds

A hedgerow retention notice relating to a rat-infested hedge on a dairy farm in Devon has been quashed in the interests of amenity and public health, despite an inspector's finding that there was no dispute that the hedgerow was environmentally important.

The hedge occupied a narrow 50m strip between a lane and a calf shed in the middle of a farm complex, with buildings on either side used as hay barns and dairy cubicles. The inspector observed that there were rat holes in the side facing the lane, while the other side was hard against the walls of the calf shed and many rat-runs emerged from behind it. He judged that the infestation of vermin was prompted by a combination of safe habitat and the freedom to scavenge among livestock and feed in surrounding farm buildings. He accepted that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that infestation would recur unless the habitat was removed.

He considered whether the removal of the section of hedge would merely disturb and disperse the rats to similar hedges, but held that the wall of the calf shed provided an exceptionally secure refuge, feeding and breeding ground. He concluded on balance that there was an exceptional and urgent need to remove the short and verminous section of hedge in the interests of amenity and public health.

DCS No: 34503437; Inspector: Nicholas Hammans; Written representations.

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