PRELIMINARY work to move ancient hedgerows at the first phase of Bicester’s 5,000-home eco town is under way.

Developer A2 Dominion is still in negotiation to buy the land, but was given permission to relocate the hedgerows, which will form part of the development’s boundary.

March is the best time before birds start nesting or there is too much growth on the hedges – some of which are up to 100 years old.

A2 Dominion’s project director Steve Hornblow said usually hedgerows were ripped out when building work started.

He said: “We are in negotiation with the land owners over purchasing the site and going through the legal processes.”

He said maintaining the ancient hedgerows was an “important part” of the development of the entire eco town site, on farmland in North West Bicester.

The hedgerows will be monitored to ensure they survive and extra shrubs will be planted.

Building work at the eco town site is expected to start in late spring or early summer.