Portchester residents block tractor off from clearing land due to fears over local wildlife

Tractor carrying wood chopping machinery in Moraunt Drive, Portchester

Tractor carrying wood chopping machinery in Moraunt Drive, Portchester

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, second right, and Minister of State for Schools The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, centre, with representatives from Portchester Community School  and Henry Cort Community College

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FURIOUS residents have blocked off access to wood chopping machinery in Portchester over fears it might endanger wildlife.

Portchester residents have used their cars to block passage to the land off Moraunt Drive, which is privately owned, over fears that the wildlife habitats of badgers, bats and slow worms are being devastated by the work.

Contractors began carrying out the work yesterday, with site owners the Churchlands Trust and Danisco looking to clear the site to present it as a possible option for housing to Fareham Borough Council.

The residents spotted chain saws and heavy machinery on the site yesterday so decided to block the route to the site this morning after a large tractor carrying wood chopping machinery tried to get access.

To order the cars to be moved, the contractors will now need to obtain a Section 171 order from Hampshire County Council, as despite owning the land, to access the site via Moraunt Drive, they need to have the local authority’s permission to cross the curb as it is owned by the council.

Despite the blockage at Moraunt Drive, contractors have been able to do some clearing after getting access via Seafield Road.

Police officers were also present at the site this morning after calls from residents and about 20 residents were down at the site earlier today.

Pat Rook, a resident of Albion Close said: ‘We just feel that the whole process of this has been carried out in such a deceitful way.

‘We know that they will eventually get access to the site as it is their land but it’s just a question of the principles at play here.’

Ms Rook says the residents called on the developers to provide an ecological study of the area, before they started clearing the site but this has yet to be produced.

The site was previously cleared off shrubbery and vegetation last month by the Churchlands Trust after complaints that brambles were entering people’s gardens.

At the time, Tony Fuller, one of the trustees of the trust, refused to rule out housing for the site, stating they were ‘assessing their options’ and that housing was not an ‘immediate option.’

Ms Rook added: ‘All we wanted was for them to carry out this survey, we wouldn’t have a problem with them if they had carried it out. It’s just very disappointing on their behalf.’

Shaun Cunningham, Liberal Democrat borough councillor for Portchester East said: ‘The developers have not been open and honest about what they have been planning to do. It’s been too secretive.

‘Residents feel that there is an issue regarding protected species on the site and this must be addressed.

Dave Wiltshire, a Portchester resident added: ‘They’ve gone in there and hacked at everything and chopped trees down. I can categorically say that there are badger sets there. It’s just awful and we are at a loss.

‘It seems there was no forethought at all before they came in and made this mess.’

The News have contacted the Churchlands Trust for comment.

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