Essex villagers outraged after parish council’s work on land

After the work: Residents say the work performed was "brutal"

After the work: Residents say the work performed was "brutal" - Credit: Archant

Residents in Stebbing Green are up in arms after a established wildlife habitat was “bulldozed” by the parish council last week.

Before: The hedgerows and trees at the back of the green

Before: The hedgerows and trees at the back of the green - Credit: Archant

The work that has taken place on the back of the green in the village has upset neighbours, who say they were not consulted about the removal of trees and hedgerows on the land.

Stebbing Parish Council say that the woodland management is part of a plan of work that started in February 2014 but admit that residents were not consulted.

Cheryl Hughes, who lives nearby, says at first she thought the work was to do with traveller prevention, but was left stunned by how much greenery was cut away.

Mrs Hughes said: “After travellers left Stebbing Green in a filthy state last year, residents and representatives of the parish council have been working together to find a way of protecting the green and all the wildlife in it.

“Imagine the shock of residents to find a JCB and a telescopic loader working on the green, ripping out 200 metres of established habitat because the blackthorn had been slightly encroaching upon the grass.

“We had not been told this was going to take place, and the work did not conform to advice given by the Essex Wildlife Trust, who had been previously consulted with issues regarding wildlife on the green.

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“The total removal of shrubs and trees at the back of the green has been totally unnecessary, and turned what was an environmental haven into just a piece of open land.”

Resident Peter Finlay said: “No explanation has been given to us about the brutal and devastating work that has been done. It looks like they’ve just bulldozed everything in sight, and we’re upset because it seems to fly in the face of recommendations by relevant authorities.

“I thought the work was to be phased over a number of years, but this just seems bizarre and odd to cut the lot back to the bones.”

John Moore, from Essex Wildlife Trust, said he had not yet seen the area, but confirmed that a management plan drawn up by an ecological consultant suggested that one fifth of the hedges should be coppiced every three to four years.

A spokesman for Stebbing Parish Council said: “The work carried out was part of a plan of work that started in February 2014 and the residents were not informed.

“Essex Wildlife Trust were consulted late last year regarding possible works in the vicinity of the pond, but not specifically regarding this area.

“What has been removed in the area is many years of encroachment of brambles and elder, which has allowed access to do much needed ditch clearance work to the rear of the green.

“The work had to be completed prior to the start of the bird nesting season that starts on March 1, and prior to the completion of the works planned to protect the green against future traveller encampments that have been agreed with a working party of residents from Stebbing Green.”