Residents uproar at destruction of orchard for housing development

BULLDOZERS have decimated an orchard - destroying the natural habitat of wildlife and potentially killing animals, an angry resident has claimed. The Little Orchard, which backs onto Aston End Road in Aston, has been earmarked for development by the trust

BULLDOZERS have decimated an orchard - destroying the natural habitat of wildlife and potentially killing animals, an angry resident has claimed.

The Little Orchard, which backs onto Aston End Road in Aston, has been earmarked for development by the trustees of the land, who hope to submit a planning application for six houses to East Herts District Council in January.

A villager, who says he is a spokesman for other fuming residents, said: "This was a haven for wildlife, such as toads, frogs, ducks, foxes, deer and possibly rare newts." This year in nearby Whitney Pond the National Amphibian Society found rare Great Crested Newts.

The angry resident said that some villagers had written to Christopher Fleming, a trustee of Little Orchard, over their concerns for the wildlife. "We were verbally reassured that wildlife was just as important to him as he had spent many childhood days playing by the pond," he said.

"Can you imagine our horror, returning home from work to find a bulldozer had completely flattened the whole area, tearing out trees and surely killing any rare species under its heavy tracks?

"It's absolutely disgraceful. It used to be a beautiful place, absolutely beautiful. The bulldozers have torn it apart and it's soul-destroying."

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He said he understood that more homes must be built in the area in order to meet Government targets, but that if Little Orchard had to be built on it should be "judged on its own merits".

"This can't be done now," he said. "He's taken it all away. It's such a mess."

"If there was something living there that was rare, it's gone now. That's why everyone is angry.

"There was no need to do it now because a planning application hasn't even gone in yet. It's obviously been done before anything could be spotted there."

Mr Fleming, who is a nephew of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, said he had a tree survey carried out by an expert who concluded that there were three trees with a life expectancy of less than 10 years, one tree of low quality, five of moderate quality, and none of high quality. He also said the report highlighted six small dead elms, and recommended three trees were felled on health and safety grounds.

He said: "They have been taken away and put on a bonfire with the brambles.

"I'm a nature lover myself. I don't cut down trees unnecessarily.

"There's a huge oak tree there that we are going to tidy up later on. We are trying to tidy the land up and make it a nice feature."

He added: "The village has got the plans and I have asked residents to comment on them, and I will change anything they want. We are doing everything we can to help them.

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