Colin Swann has spent much of his life studying and admiring the 200-yard hedge that stretches along the Lurgan Road, past his Birch Hill Park home to the Seagoe Hotel traffic lights.
And the Zoology/Agriculture double graduate from Queen’s University aims to keep it that way, with a housing development being built at the other side of what he terms “this wonderful eco-system”.
Colin spent many of his formative years at Birch Hill when he lived with his parents. He and wife Carol raised their two sons and daughter at their own family home Birch Hill and he continually studies the flora and fauna of the ever-changing “wild and natural hedge”.
He said, “It contains a wide range of trees – oak, ash and hawthorn, as well as brambles – there’s a lot of shrubs and undergrowth, and that supports several types of birds, with so many insects and other species attracted.”
Over the years, he has spotted blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks, robins, collared doves, wood pigeon and house sparrows, which are under real pressure – “79 per cent down over the past 20 years”.
He added, “There have been so many nesting sites over the years, and the hedge also attracts voles and mice – I’ve studied it closely and it’s fascinating. Motorists don’t realise the richness of wildlife as they drive past, and it would be a shame and disgrace if it were ripped up.
“I have been in constant touch with the planners and no-one seems to know the fate of the hedge – whether it will be ripped out to accommodate the latest developments or not. The planners are studying the paperwork over the years and I have to meet them again.”
Colin had served notice seven years ago that he would be fighting any plans to uproot the hedge when there was a previous planning application – “That one was shelved and it all seems in the melting pot again.”
He went on, “The planners seem sympathetic to conserving the hedge, and I would agree to a compromise of an access, removing a small section of the hedge. I’m confident they won’t rip out such a valuable asset to nature.”