A WEM man whose ancient hedge was missed off a set of plans for a new housing estate says the works have left parts of the historic row dead, and deterred bats from visiting it.

Mike Sargeant wants Shropshire Council to pay to install a fence to protect his property – and claimed the authority has failed to protect bats in his wildlife-rich hedgerow from light pollution from a new streetlight as a result of the hedge’s omission from the plans.

Shropshire Council imposed conditions on the plans for the 25-home Tilley Grove development in Wem demanding that measures be taken to protect trees and hedgerows from damage “during and after construction work”.

But Mr Sargeant says that because his hedge was missed off the initial plans, it was not covered by the council’s stipulation that existing hedges should be protected with temporary fencing and a 1.5m buffer to protect their roots.

As such, neither the fence or buffer were put in place, meaning the new road within the development site has been constructed near the hedge – which Mr Sargeant says has caused it to deteriorate, and parts of it to die.

And the omission of the hedge from the initial plans has also meant that it is not covered by a stipulation that new street lights on the estate be directed away from hedges and trees – meaning a light points directly at his hedge, deterring wildlife from visiting.

Whitchurch Herald: A street light has been put up directly overlooking the hedgeA street light has been put up directly overlooking the hedge

Mr Sargeant says a new 1.8m close-boarded wooden fence should have been installed on the other side of the hedge – as with others surrounding the site – but that too was missed because of the hedge’s omission from the initial plans.

It was only when Mr Sargeant asked workmen on-site about the new fence that he was told he wasn’t getting one as it wasn’t on the plans.

“We were under the impression we were getting this fence, that would guard the hedge and the bats from the light,” he said.

“There was never an arboricultural report done, and this is where they’ve missed the hedge off.”

Whitchurch Herald: No root buffer zone was left when the road was builtNo root buffer zone was left when the road was built

Now the development is complete and the streetlight is up, Mr Sargeant says bats which previously used the hedge ­– and are a legally-protected species ­– are nowhere to be seen.

He said: “The bats are being persecuted and it’s not right. The bats can’t fight for it and the hedge can’t fight, so it’s only me left. I feel a responsibility.”

Mr Sargeant took the matter to his MP, firstly Owen Paterson then Helen Morgan, who both contacted Shropshire Council.

In a letter to Mr Paterson in 2019, a senior council officer said the authority would “investigate the possibility of securing additional fencing”, but nothing came of it.

Ms Morgan later took up the issue and wrote to the council last year to raise concerns over bats “whose habitat is being degraded by light pollution”.

But the council said there was “nothing further” it could add, as Mr Sargeant had already complained – unsuccessfully – to the Local Government Ombudsman twice.

Mr Sargeant says that while he accepts an initial complaint regarding impact on his health was dismissed, neither the council nor the ombudsman addressed his second complaint concerning bats.

He said: “All the answers from the council are just waffle. There’s nothing right about it.

Whitchurch Herald: Mike Sargeant in his gardenMike Sargeant in his garden

“It’s just really frustrating, I have got so much evidence where they have gone wrong and they don’t want to admit it.

“The council is in denial because I don’t think they know what to do to put it right.”

He has now taken legal advice and is asking the council to fund the fence that he says should have been included in the first place.

The hedgerow contains holly, hazel, blackthorn, hawthorn, and spindle, suggesting that it is around 500 years old based to the ‘Hooper Forumula’, endorsed by Historic England, which says you can count 100 years for each species. The earliest record of the hedge on maps dates from 1845.

Councillor Chris Schofield, cabinet member for planning and regulatory services said: “Whilst we have had complaints regarding the site and have investigated these, we have not received any evidence to suggest there has been any harm to bats or roosts to date.

“The ecological assessment for the development site suggested bat boxes were required.

“If in the future Mr Sergeant has concerns about the detrimental impact to bats, Mr Sergeant would need to report this to the police and Natural England, as Shropshire Council is not the enforcing authority.

“Mr Sargeant has been through the council’s complaints process, and the ombudsman, and does not agree with the decision.”

Fletcher Homes, the developer behind Tilley Grove, was approached for comment.