Pudsey: Stop order issued over unauthorised tree felling

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2215

By John Baron

The unauthorised felling of trees in a small woodland near the Owlcotes Centre in Pudsey has been stopped.

Local residents had spoken out against the recent felling of trees at Wood Nook, which runs next to the footpath linking ASDA and New Pudsey Station at Dawsons Corner.

The site is allocated for housing through the council’s planning blueprint, the Site Allocations Plan, and no trees on the site were subject to a Tree Protection Order (TPO), and the site is not a designated Conservation Area.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson confirmed: “The privately owned site at Wood Nook has been unused for some years.

“Removal of the trees is not a breach of planning regulations; however the Forestry Commission issued a ‘stop notice’ because no felling licence had been applied for.

“Council officers have visited the site regularly since being alerted on 11 April of the removal of trees and an emergency TPO is now in place. This can be issued promptly to the landowner and affected neighbours, preventing further losses and allowing a period for objections or appeal before the order is made permanent or lifted.

“The council and landowner are liaising on the matter and all clearance work has ceased. To date there has been no approach to planning services about possible development. Any future proposals will be considered carefully to ensure the scheme is appropriate to the site and takes into account any TPOs and the condition of the site prior to the tree felling.”

Local residents had been concerned over the impact on nesting birds and nearby residents in Stanningley had contacted local councillors. Two years ago local resident Steve Cave started a petition to have Tree Protection Orders put in place. The petition had 246 signatures.

Councillor Dawn Seary (Cons, Pudsey) said: “It was disheartening to see the destruction of the Wood Nook site last week, near to the train Station. Despite the swift action taken by Leeds City Council officers after I raised it with them, the pace of destruction has left the site in an awful state.

“I am informed that the Council has now implemented Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and any potential development should commit to replacing any lost trees at a ratio of 3:1, the trees removed will be noted as part of a biodiversity assessment. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the felling and destruction occurred without proper permission.

“I will work with the council to ensure those responsible will be held accountable for their actions. The impact on local wildlife, is concerning. 

“As this site was sadly added to the Site Allocation Plan, prior to me becoming a Councillor, development here is inevitable. However, I will be scrutinising any forthcoming planning applications on this site and will ensure the actions this week will not be ignored.”

Councillor Peter Carlill (Lab, Farsley & Calverley) said: “After being informed of the horrendous amount of tree felling on this site, I contacted appropriate departments at the council on 11th April. 

“The first advice I received included a note that disturbing wild birds would be an offence, I also contacted the Wildlife Crime Team at West Yorkshire Police the following day.

“The Forestry Commission were therefore notified as widespread tree removal would normally need a licence from them. They served a Stop Notice to prevent any further works for an investigation to take place.

“A Tree Officer from the council also attended the site and due to the value of the trees there was significant enough concern to progress an Emergency Area Tree Preservation Order to protect the remainder of the site.

“Recent reports of burning on the site appear to be from another unauthorised group separate to the contractor, who accessed the site to fly tip or burn waste – there should be legal action taken by the landowner to stop this.

“I have had confirmation that if a planning application comes forward in the near future, the planning department will seek to base this on the state of the site before tree felling was started (based on aerial imagery and past photography) – to make sure that they have a responsibility to mitigate for what has been lost.

“I was also notified that a petition asking for a tree preservation order for the site was created in 2022, and that this was sent through to the council along with a request for a tree preservation order at that time. The most important thing so far has been ensuring the works were halted, however I will now look into why this original request had not been actioned, which may have halted these works sooner.”

Cllr Carlill added that investigations by the police and Forestry Commission into possible offences will continue, and prosecution can follow if these are founded.

Councillor Andrew Carter (Cons, Calverley & Farsley) said Wood Nook, adjacent to Dawson’s Corner, is a historic area of Stanningley.  He added: “No planning application has been submitted so no-one was aware of what was going on until the tree felling commenced.

“I believe the council have been slow to act to stop this work. I notified the appropriate departments of the council as soon as I was informed that felling had begun. 

“Regrettably, it is largely too late now. If the council cannot take appropriate action to save significant areas of woodland, then all their talk about protecting the environment is nothing more than virtue signalling.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I wonder why nothing happened after the petition to the council in 2022? Will be interesting to hear how the council responded to these concerns from the local community at the time.

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