Investigation into village tree felling

Concerned residents from Oulton, near Blickling, alerted the commission on Tuesday after part of private land owned by Bernard Matthews was cleared.

Villagers have claimed 342 trees, including ash, sweet chestnut, rowan and Corsican pines, covering three quarters of an acre were cut down.

They said the specimens were planted after Broadland District Council's planning committee insisted in 1991 that new turkey sheds, put up at the time, should be screened.

Sam Booker, 41, from Oulton, said villagers were 'outraged' at the tree removal and many could see the sheds from their homes.

David Bole, partnerships and expertise manager for the Forestry Commission in East Anglia, said: 'We sent two woodland officers to the site on Wednesday. We have started an investigation.'

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He did not know how long the investigation would take.

The cleared area is next to a proposed site for a 80m-high wind turbine on land between the Blickling and Heydon conservation areas, put forward by Bernard Matthews.

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A spokesman for Bernard Matthews Farms said: 'As part of the planning process for the proposed wind turbine we carried out an ecology assessment on the site. A small potential risk to local bat populations from proximity of trees to the proposed turbine was identified and following recommendation we removed some of the trees on the site. We have since planted new endemic trees to offset those that were removed.'

Planning, enforcement and conservation teams from Broadland have looked into the matter, according to a council spokesman.

She added: 'There is no indication that any further trees are under threat and so there is no immediate intention to consider serving a Tree Preservation Order. However, this matter will be kept under review.'

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