Village fears about woodland clearance

View of felling in Drinkstone

View of felling in Drinkstone

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Concerns have been raised about recent tree felling in Drinkstone and the effect if could have on wildlife.

A three-quarter acre area of privatively-owned land off Chapel Lane is understood to have been earmarked for development.

It belonged to an elderly woman who died around a year ago and was not sold with the rest of her plot.

Neighbour Ken White was waiting for plans to be submitted so that he could make his objections known and said he felt ‘a tug inside’ when he first heard chainsaws around two weeks ago.

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said no tree preservation orders applied to the site and the Forestry Commission confirmed no felling licences were needed.

But Mr White is concerned that bats’ summer roosting places are being destroyed.

In Britain all bat species and their roosts are legally protected, by both domestic and international legislation.

Mr White, who works part-time for the National Trust as a property surveyor on covenants, said: “I have previous experience where plots of land like this come up and developers move in before a planning application and destroy the environmental richness of the site.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed it had received a wildlife related complaint which it was ‘looking into’.

A spokeswoman for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust said: “It’s difficult to say whether there are bat roosts because we didn’t get in there to see before hand.”

She added: “Where land is subject to a planning application, we recommend ecological surveys are carried out before work starts, then we’ve got a chance of influencing the development by recommending certain strategies are used to the benefits of wildlife.”

Reg Harris, tree surgery director for Bury St Edmunds-based contractor Urban Forestry, said: “On all of our sites, we check with the local authority that the trees we are working upon are not covered by preservation orders, or any other protective legislation, before we start work.

“We also check all of our sites and trees individually for evidence of protected species, and record the information. Any subsequent work is carried out at a suitable time of year and, in fact, the work at Drinkstone was delayed from the summer so that we specifically didn’t disturb any bats or nesting birds, which may have potentially been using the site in the warmer months.”

Moira Goldstaub, chairman of the parish council, said Drinkstone was ‘not very happy at all’ about the clearance.

She added: “It’s sad because we’re a village in the countryside so it’s not at all clear that when the trustees put in for planning permission they will be granted it, so we will have just had the trees felled for no reason.”