Environmental campaigners are fighting to save a hedgerow from destruction by a developer.

Councillor James Abbott (Green, Silver End and Cressing) is leading the fight against Redrow Homes, which wants to remove a 135m section of hedge along Western Road, Silver End.

The developer says it needs to clear the area in order to allow access for its approved development of up to 350 homes on the land.

However Mr Abbott, along with a group of residents, are calling on the housebuilder to halt plans to fell the vegetation, which is home to 13 different species of trees and shrubs.

He said: "The reports accompanying the application are predictably and typically negative and dismissive about the hedge - pretty much all developers do this - they pay for consultants to downplay the value of hedges and trees they want to cut down so that they can justify the removal.

"I would agree that there is some dead elm in evidence, but most of the elm is alive and most of the hedge is thriving.

"Similarly, claims by the developers that the hedge is of little landscape value are just rubbish.

"The hedge is a very strong landscape feature which has been in its current form for many decades along Western Road and provides a naturally rural aspect along this entrance into the village."

Earlier this year, Mr Abbott and another group of residents won a battle against Bellway Homes to preserve another hedgerow in Rickstones Road Rivenhall.

In this instances, Braintree Council's planning committee backed calls to save the hedge, refusing Bellway's application and forcing them to return with scaled back proposals.

Mr Abbott says similarly the Silver End hedge is an important site for wildlife and plants and it simply does not need to be felled.

added: "On the day I walked the hedge, nesting birds were evident as were several species of butterfly working along the hedge margin on the field side.

"The applicants themselves state that hedge is likely to be a bat commuting and feeding corridor – which local residents know it to be.

"The claim in one of the reports that the loss of this hedge would not affect the bats is simply tosh and no evidence is provided to back that claim."

Chris Gatland, Head of Planning at Redrow Eastern, said: “Outline Planning permission has been granted for a development of up to 350 homes on this site, including public open space and landscaping.  

"We are currently finalising detailed plans for the development, which will include improvement works to Western Road to create a safe access into the site.

"In the meantime, we are initially looking to remove a section of hedge to create a temporary access point.

"This section of hedge has been identified, by an arboricultural specialist, as having Dutch Elm Disease, which carries a risk of infecting neighbouring Elm trees if retained or transplanted.

"Building responsibly is central to our philosophy at Redrow.  

"We take a ‘net-gain’ approach to biodiversity across all our developments, which means that on all sites we commit to enhancing the ecological value of land following the creation of new communities, and securing its long term ecological management.”