Emergency action to halt the destruction of acres of Sussex woodland has been taken today by the South Downs National Park Authority.
Conservationists, councillors and local residents were left shocked and upset when they discovered that masses of trees had been felled and burnt at Pondtail Wood, Albourne, and a large amount of rubble and hardcore brought onto the site.
But today the South Downs National Park Authority issued Pondtail Wood’s owners with a Stop Notice, and Enforcement Notice, which requires the immediate halting of the deposit of waste and the halting of engineering works.
All material must now be removed from the site and the land prepared for planning in accordance with the Forestry Commission’s restocking notice.
Sussex Wildlife Trust chief executive Dr Tony Whitbread has described the woodland destruction as ‘a devastating loss’ and local residents, upset by the tree-felling, have formed a ‘Save Pondtail Wood’ action group.
Today Dr Whitbread described the stop order as ‘very good news’ and added: “This is replanted ancient woodland which has been pretty quickly destroyed by the new owner. This is the worst example of something that is perhaps more common than people realise.”
The South Downs National Park Authority say they are now working with the Environment Agency who are investigating the importation of waste.
In a statement, they said: “We are also working closely with the Environment Agency, who are investigating the importation of waste.
“We understand that the local community are as frustrated as we are with the damage to the site and are grateful they alerted us to the situation.”
They say that It is an offence not to comply with an enforcement notice and a fine of up to £20,000 could be imposed.