A PLAN to protect wildlife and keep out foxes has been implemented at the Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve.

New warden Patrick Bailly and a team of volunteers have put up a 130m section of hedgerow to protect the reserve and its inhabitants.

The reserve borders the Oakwood Hill Estate, Loughton, which has been experiencing delays in refuse collection, and there has been a knock-on effect. Foxes were ripping open bin bags and dragging the contents into the reserve.

Mr Bailly said: "The rubbish has been left outside people's houses and overnight the foxes have grabbed it. On the border we just had a row of young trees and refuse was strewn throughout the reserve."

Using a team of regular volunteers and additional help from pupils at Roding Valley High School, Mr Bailly cleared the area of rubbish and laid the hedgerow.

The project took more than 100 hours of work and gathered together several bags of refuse.

Mr Bailly added: "It makes a good, strong fence which is excellent for wildlife. The residents of the Oakwood Hill Estate came out and gave us cups of tea and coffee. They said it looked really good and they were interested in what it's all about."

Epping Forest Council has apologised to Oakwood Hill residents for the refuse collection problems.

Regarding the issue of foxes, a council spokesman said: "We urge residents not to put their black sacks out before 7am on the day of collection to discourage animals from breaking into them or dragging them off to quieter places."