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GBC and Developer Refute Resident’s Claims of Illegal Felling and Badger Sett Ruin

Published on: 18 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 20 Dec, 2020

A tree is removed to clear another housing site in Ash.

By David Reading

Claims that trees were illegally felled and badger setts destroyed by clearing for housing have been categorically denied by Guildford Borough Council and the developer, Bellway Homes.

Deep local concerns by Ash residents have long been simmering about what they see as a huge amount of development changing their area.

See: Residents Still Uneasy About Ash Station £23m Rail Bridge Plan

Now a new row among residents has erupted on social media, fuelled by the latest allegations from one who wants his name withheld.

Bellway Homes have permission to build 154 houses south of Guildford Road, Ash, near the railway station.

A resident who lives on the edge of the site accused Bellway of cutting down trees covered by preservation orders (TPOs) and burying two badger setts.

This photo allegedly shows a mound of earth piled on a badgers’ sett.

Bellway said there were no badgers on the site, and the borough council denied any trees covered by a TPO had been cut down.

The resident said he found trees being removed and two setts filled in. He filmed his confrontation with a worker clearly heard saying, “Planning over-rides TPO.” The film also shows what the resident claims are ravaged setts.

Cllr James Steel

But Cllr James Steel, lead for the Environment, told the Dragon: “We visited the site last week and found no trees covered by a preservation order had been felled and all works were in accordance with approved plans.”

The visit, by the council’s arboriculturist and Surrey police, had been requested by Cllr Jo Randall (Con, Ash Wharf). She said: “It was confirmed no protected trees had been removed or that the badger sett had been damaged or disturbed.”

A Bellway spokesperson said: “The developer agrees with Guildford Borough Council. Bellway can also confirm there are no badgers at the development you are referring to so the claim over a badger sett being disturbed is also incorrect.”

The complaining resident, who lives in a Victorian cottage in Harper’s Road, continues to insist there were two badger setts.

He said:I was in my garden and heard the sound of snapping wood and the digger sound. As I looked up the tree that stood at the end of my neighbour’s garden suddenly disappeared and I could see all the way into the fields.

A photo of part of the site partially cleared.

“The digger driver had just pulled down an oak tree and the silver birch. I grabbed my phone and ran round the back to find the driver ripping out another large oak tree. I shouted to him to stop saying they are TPO trees he’s pulling out. He said planning overrides TPO.

“I went over to the two badger sets and one was completely dug out and covered over and another had a huge pile of earth and waste dumped on the entrance.

“This has left us all devastated. With all the trees gone there will now be no sound barrier from the building work, or from the new road bridge over the railway.

“We will find ourselves no longer in a Victorian cottage in the country but a Victorian cottage next to a huge road bridge and in the middle of a housing estate.

“What was once a beautiful green area in Ash and Ash Green is now no more than bricks and mortar. We all know there is more to come. Already they are already offering money for land between Ash and Normandy.”

Within 10 years, developers will have built about 2,000 new homes in the area. This is a key reason why the council believes the new railway bridge is needed.

The A323 through Ash is frequently congested, traffic often backed up in both directions. This will get worse as more homes are occupied.

In June, a report by council officers to the planning committee agreed the new road bridge and the Bellway development would significantly change the character of this part of Ash.

But the report also assured the committee that a well-devised landscaping strategy would be introduced, with tree-planting and introduction of native species and wildflowers.

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test One Response to GBC and Developer Refute Resident’s Claims of Illegal Felling and Badger Sett Ruin

  1. J Pearson Reply

    December 19, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Did the developer or the council give any thought to the obvious distress of this resident and others? Having trees felled and habitat for protected species destroyed on your doorstep is a traumatic experience for anyone who cares about our natural environment, whether a TPO or badgers setts exists or not.

    Wouldn’t it be good practice to notify residents of such work and understand and care about how development might impact them? Was there an ecological survey, and if not why not? Was the release of carbon stored in trees felled and their surrounding root systems and soil factored into the “sustainable development” considerations of this site? If not, why not?

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