Police and council investigate concerns nesting birds were disturbed in tree felling

PUBLISHED: 08:27 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:29 13 May 2020

Drayton Old Lodge. Picture: Katy Walters

Drayton Old Lodge. Picture: Katy Walters

Katy Walters

Police and council investigations are ongoing after concerns were raised nesting birds may have been disturbed when trees were felled at a housing development.

Drayton Old Lodge photographed in 2004. Photo: Bill SmithDrayton Old Lodge photographed in 2004. Photo: Bill Smith

Wilson Development Ltd was granted planning permission to build 30 homes at Drayton Old Lodge, off Drayton High Road in Norwich, and to convert Drayton Lodge from a business centre into five dwellings in June last year.

Work to clear the site in preparation for development began in April.

But images of the land shared on social media have led to outcry that the clearance work should not have taken place, as it may have included protected trees and disturbed nesting birds.

Both the district council for the area and Norfolk police are now investigating the concerns.

John Allaway, a tree surgeon, who has lived in Drayton since the 1960s said he first noticed trees had been felled at the site on April 28.

He said: “I just couldn’t believe what I saw. The land was completely cleared to ground level, so everything in an area about the size of an acre was gone... It was just bare ground with a massive bonfire heap.”

He said while he was concerned the Tree Protection Orders in the area were not sufficient, his main worry was that wildlife may have been disturbed.

He said: “The main issue is the time of year they are doing it, even if they have permission they have had since July to do the work and they chose now, the very height of the nesting season.”

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A spokesperson for Broadland District Council said as of May 11, the council had received two complaints about the tree felling at the site.

They said the council would be sending conservation and tree officers to visit the plot to assess whether any of the trees affected had been covered by the existing Tree Protection Orders.

The council said it had also contacted the police about a possible offence under the Wildlife and Conservation Act.

A spokesperson for Norfolk Constabulary confirmed the force had received one report that mature trees and shrubs where birds were thought to be nesting had been cleared on Drayton High Road. They said a wildlife officer had visited the site and investigations were ongoing.

A spokesperson for Wilson Development Ltd said: “Wilson Development Ltd would like to assure the community that at all times, strict procedure regarding the removal of trees has been adhered to and Wildlife Assessments have been undertaken.

“All tree-felling has been carried out with full permission and to facilitate the archaeological works which are required on the site before building work can begin.

“While we appreciate people’s concerns, we have taken every precaution to ensure that we are acting within the guidelines we have been set.

“No further tree-felling work will be taking place until September.”

The company added that is was concerned people may have been visiting the land which was an active building site and therefore not safe for the public.

It stressed the land was private property where trespassing was prohibited.

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