Like most terraced houses, we have a back lane running the lengthof the row. The gates from our garden open on to a small alley, with a beautiful old hedgerow running the length.
This used to be a section of the amazing old hedgerow behind our house, full of Rowan, birch, hawthorn, blackthorn, honesty, nettles, elder. This is where I got the nettles for my nettle soup and pesto. Its where I collected flowers for fritters and cordial. Its where the cats of the neighbourhood sought refuge and mice and the children of the area had a fort. It was a pocket of magic.
Last week, as Kevin left for work, the neighbour whose garden backs onto the other side of the row was out with a saw. He told Kev he was just "trimming the rowan" as it was unhealthy. Over the course of the week, more and more of the bushes and trees were removed, until on Friday we were left with a barren patch of ground.
The neighbour told Kev he'd decided to tear it down and move his fence back. That he'd been back to original plans and the land was his. He's planning on extending his house.
I can't even go out back it makes me so sick and sad. I feel like the whole village has lost a small part of something precious that won't come back. I take some comfort in the fact that he probably wasn't supposed to do it and that many villagers are up in arms. But, its still gone and when everyone else moves on past this local scandal, we are still the ones who have to open our gate and be faced with the carnage.
Even more than the personal or local loss, the attitude of "just do it now and ask questions later" pervades so much of the way development happens. There is a closed down housing development at the end of the road into the village where the developers carried out major works to the riverbanks without permission. They did it wrong, were closed down, and it sits empty and derelict, but the river has still been damaged in an area that floods frequently.
Of course I will be writing a letter to the council to inform them of the alteration of the conservation area (it looks like lopping and removing trees requires consent in our area), but the hedgerow is still gone, with probably very little recourse.