Monday, 20 May 2019

Crash driver destroyed my hedge, says orchard owner

Crash driver destroyed my hedge, says orchard owner

A DRIVER destroyed a 15m section of valuable hedge on the outskirts of Henley when he ploughed through it.

The young man lost control of a Ford Fiesta in Greys Road and flattened the hawthorn hedge at Three Oaks Orchard.

Nick Hay, who runs the site with his wife Banny, discovered the damage as he was driving his son to school shortly after 8.30am on Wednesday last week.

Mr Hay, of St Mark’s Road, Henley, said police were on the scene directing traffic.

Both the driver and his passenger, who appeared to be in their twenties, had escaped unhurt. No other vehicles were involved.

Debris from the vehicle, including a headlight, was strewn around the narrow verge in front of the orchard. The car was later towed away. Mr Hay said: “I saw the policeman and quickly realised someone had gone through the hedge. I was probably a bit angry initially.

“There was a young guy and another kid standing by the car. He did say he was okay so we should look on the bright side and be thankful that they both walked away. He probably thought he was going to die so a hedgerow isn’t going to be that important to him.

“At the end of the day it’s just property damage, nothing serious.

“The car had lost a bumper. For a small car to have hit that many big stumps it must have just stopped it.”

Mr Hay has called for action as the orchard is near a bend in the road and the 6ft hedge has been damaged in two previous crashes, one in 2010 and the other in 2017.

He plans to contact Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, Henley’s representative on Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, to ask for new signs warning drivers to slow down.

Mr Hay said: “People don’t seem able to handle this corner. They lose control, lose the back end, over compensate and end up in the hedge. It would be great if they could avoid doing it.”

He said his fruit trees hadn’t been affected but the hedge, which was laid about four years ago, had been a “work of art”. It was between 15 and 20 feet tall when it was laid but some sections couldn’t be replanted because they were more than 20 years old.

Mr Hay had the hedge reinstated after the previous incident but said this time it would take years to return to its original height.

He said he would have to erect a temporary fence to prevent muntjac from entering the orchard and eating his fruit.

“I think we have to get a ‘bends ahead’ sign,” he said. “It’s a danger for children again, again and again and the next one could be fourth time unlucky.

“If there isn’t a warning you don’t know what’s coming up. A sign seems the best thing we can do.”

The seven-acre orchard was planted by Mrs Hay’s parents Minou and Iraj Poostchi, who bought the land in 2001 and planted more than 1,000 fruit trees.

The orchard now produces organic apples, peaches, plums, pears and quinces for the local community and it is often visited by young schoolchildren as a place of interest.

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