A county councillor has called for a local “Hedge Fund” to restore hedgerows after recent snowfall caused chaos on the county’s country roads.
Ed Maxfield, who represents the Mundesley division as an Independent says the fund could see miles of new hedges planted each year.
“Villages like Northrepps, Antingham and Paston in my division have seen roads blocked by drifting snow well after it stopped snowing,” he said. “The loss of hedgerows has contributed to that and the County Council should step up and help to tackle the problem.
“The Conservatives want to give each county councillor £10,000 to spend on roads in their area. If they took just £2,000 of that they could create a £150,000 ‘Hedge Fund’ to spend on returning hedges to the county’s fields.
“The coalition government ran a scheme that paid farmers to plant new hedges. At the same rate, a local scheme could plant 13km each year. But that’s even before you take account of voluntary contributions.”
He said people had already offered to help with the planting and he was sure environmental charities would also pitch in because of the many benefits to the nature.
“More hedges mean more wildlife habitat,” he said. “It contributes to carbon fixing. It probably reduces problems with flooding by taking water from over-worked ditches. And it would cut the need for snow ploughing. It’s a simple fix that whole communities could get behind.”
Andy Grant, Norfolk County Council member for environment and waste, said the council was already in the throes of a tree-planting project – One Million Trees for Norfolk – with more than 6,300 tree and hedge plants already in the ground.
“We’re working with partners including the Tree Council, The Woodland Trust and Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group on the Norfolkwide five-year scheme that will expand, improve and connect our existing tree and hedge cover, including on farms,” he said.
“I’m sure that any extra funding that members would like to contribute locally, to establish and maintain trees and hedges in the right place, would be a welcome addition.”