• 30 acres of woodland to be lost in West Hill

    22nd April 2014 | News | Claire
  • Permission has been granted to landowners, the Salston Estate, to fell around 1300 douglas fir and larch that form woodland next to West Hill Road, between Lower Broad Oak Road right the way down to the former Salston Hotel, on the edge of Ottery St Mary.

    Some areas are to be completely cleared of trees, with other parts being thinned.

    West Hill, being set amongst trees, is known as The Woodland Village.

    After talking to both EDDC’s tree officer and a representative from the Forestry Commission, it is unfortunately, not legally possible to prevent such a large area of trees being cut down.

    It is viewed as a commercial operation and douglas fir saplings will be replanted, to replace the trees.

    Of course, the saplings will take decades to become as large and to be of such value to nature and habitat, as they currently are.

    I have walked past the wood before on my way into Ottery and it is alive with sounds of wildlife, and it will be particularly full of bustling activity at the moment, of course. 

    West Hill Residents Association chairman, Dick Beardsall’s request to leave a line of deciduous trees along the edge of the plantation, has been agreed to by the landowners.

    However, the felling is expected to start imminently … just as our birds, many of which are in steep decline, are in serious nest building mode.

    It is of course, an offence to disturb nesting birds and I am told that the contractor has walked through the wood and not found any nests. 

    This seems entirely unsatisfactory to me and it surely must be inevitable that there are nests somewhere within the 30 hectares, in various stages of completion or chicks in the process of hatching out.

    I accept that commercial forestry is an important part of the countryside economy and I don’t want to hinder that industry, but I do believe that with such large areas to be felled, that landowners should wait until the nesting season is over, because of the likelihood of disturbing birds nests or killing young chicks.

    I really hope that the Salston Estate landowners reconsider their position and decide to wait until August to start their felling operation.