With parcels of a protected ancient woodland regularly being put up for auction - the latest just last week - the Comet sheds some light on who is selling off the land.

Concerns over the future of Box Wood in Stevenage have been mounting after 60 acres were parcelled up for sale last year.

A 12.6 acre plot on a 999-year lease was included in an auction last Tuesday, but a bidding war between two parties only reached £25,000 - significantly lower than the £40,000 guide price - and failed to reach the reserve price.

The land, which lies within Green Belt off Stevenage Road and partly within a site of Archaeological Significance and an Ancient Monument, has been added to East Hertfordshire Council's Asset of Community Value register after community interest company Friends of Fairlands Farm nominated the asset. If the owner wants to sell, Friends of Fairlands Farm must first have the chance to register an interest as a bidder, triggering a six-month period during which time the owner can only sell to a community interest group.

The wood is owned by private real estate company SIPP Investments Ltd. At the time of writing, Companies House lists director Michael Duke as the active director of 423 companies - including cleaning, construction and takeaway businesses - with a total 10,744 appointments to his name. For many, he was appointed and resigned the same day, or following day.

The registered address for SIPP Investments Ltd is the same for 48,558 companies, and the company has no website, telephone number or social media presence.

The registered address for many of Michael's historic companies is 2 Woodberry Grove, Finchley, N12 0DR - the incorporation address for 188,956 businesses on Companies House, and the address featured in the indictment of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

According to Company Check: “The combined cash at bank value for all businesses where Michael Duke holds a current appointment equals £0, a combined total current assets value of £0 with a total current liabilities of £0 and a total current net worth of £0.”

Setting up shell companies is not illegal, and incorporation address services are common business practice.