Power firm under fire for taking axe to Whiteley woodland site

POWER LINES Scaffolding and nets where the pylon work is taking place
POWER LINES Scaffolding and nets where the pylon work is taking place
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ANGRY residents have criticised a power company for chopping down dozens of trees, potentially killing wildlife.

About 60 mature trees and many more shrubs have been axed close to Mollison Rise in Whiteley as part of the National Grid’s maintenance programme.

CLEARED The remains of the site

CLEARED The remains of the site

But according to Winchester City Council, which owns the land, the National Grid has gone too far in the amount of woodland it has removed.

The trees, which were not protected, were cut down to enable workers to get to the pylons safely. The company denies it has done anything wrong.

But in a letter sent to homes in the area, Winchester City Council admitted it was given ‘extremely short notice’ before clearance work began.

Parish council leader Mike Evans said: ‘The residents are furious.

‘They think they’ve lost value on their homes, they’ve destroyed trees with birds nesting in them, and there were deer living in there too.

‘It’s been very badly handled, it’s been like Big Brother doing whatever it likes. There’s been no consultation at all.’

Ward and parish councillor Vivian Achwal said: ‘There has been a total lack of communication all round – it’s been a complete mess and I don’t think they have explained to the residents what they’re doing at all well.’

Winchester City Council said it was in talks with the National Grid to ‘ensure that the cleared areas are properly restored’.

Damian Offer, the council’s head of landscape and open spaces, said: ‘The extent of clearance has exceeded that originally discussed.

‘I have advised National Grid that we will require additional restorative works as a result of the increased area they have cleared.’

The National Grid said the work had been agreed with the local authorities beforehand, and that the public will be kept informed of any temporary closures of roads, footpaths, rights of way and public open spaces required to complete the work.

Project manager Carl Davies said: ‘Our work will help ensure local people continue to enjoy the safe, efficient and reliable electricity supplies which make life as we know it today possible.

‘Safety is our top priority. We’ll do all we can to deliver this vital upgrade as considerately as possible and with minimal hassle to the local community.’