Residents' fury over developer's 'decimation' of woodland

Residents have hit out at a housing developer which they say has “decimated” a woodland area to prepare the land for building work.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 12:30 pm

The thick section of trees stood to the rear of the new Springfield Grange Estate off Flanshaw Lane, but was recently cleared by Stonewater.

While it is accepted that planning permission was granted to remove the trees, there are some who claim little consideration was given to the wildlife, particularly as nesting season is in full swing.

Aaron Dempsey, who only recently moved onto the estate, said there was evidence of nests and feathers left on the site after the workmen had left.

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Residents are angry about the work taking place during nesting season.

He said: “They have got permission to remove them, but they are not allowed to chop them down if they have permission during nesting season.

“There was so much wildlife in there, wood pigeons, kestrels and foxes, you could hear it, and it was so peaceful, .

“But they have totally decimated it without any care.

“Everybody is absolutely livid. It’s just reckless.”

The trees were recently cleared.

Nesting season runs from around March to August and it an offence to cut down trees if birds are nesting.

The West Yorkshire Police wildlife officer is now looking into the complaint.

Mr Dempsey added: “I do not begrudge developers, but they have an obligation to do it respectfully.

“We shouldn’t be giving land like this and nobody wants to live in a concrete jungle with no wildlife around them.

An aerial view of the site. (submitted photo)

“I would have rather they did not pull the trees down but that’s another matter.”

However, Stonewater has since denied that there were any nesting birds in the trees with a contractor carrying out a survey prior to felling.

Chris Montague, director of development for the housing company, said: “Ahead of this year’s nesting season and in preparation for construction work to begin on this development, a tree and grounds maintenance service contractor removed the majority of the ground vegetation and trees between February 22 and 26.

“Whilst a return visit was required to fell a small strip of trees on the boundary of the site near Springfield Grange, this was carried out on April 2 and 3, alongside an ecological watching brief to ensure no nesting birds would be impacted.

“No nesting birds were present, which enabled them to proceed with clearing the area and the felled logs were removed from the site on April 6.

“Stonewater was also the first UK housing association to partner with the Community Forest Trust, planting six new trees for every home we build including planting one tree for every home on a new development.

“We will be planting 140 trees upon completion of the new affordable homes at Flanshaw Way.”

Despite Stonewater’s defence of their work ,even the original plans suggest work should take place outside of nesting season.

The plans for the 140 homes was granted in July 2017 , with an accompanying statement reading: “Clearance of the site should take place between October and February,”

Much of the L-shaped is wasteland and had never previously been subject to any planning matters.

Previously regarded as land for employment, it was recategorised as residential in 2013 due to the number of housing estates surrounding the site.