Hundreds of trees felled on Green Belt site 'to make way for travellers camp'
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- Credit: Tim Firmin
Hundreds of pine trees on Green Belt land near Redbourn have been felled as part of an apparent bid to develop the land.
Residents living near to Luton Lane alerted parish, district and county councils last week following widescale tree clearing on a 1.4ha site at the junction of the A5183 near Redbourn Golf Club.
Although the Forestry Commission has apparently issued a licence for thinning approximately 500 trees, the work carried out was on a massive scale, with more than 1,000 trees chopped down.
Neighbours fear the land has been cleared in anticipation of it being used for an unauthorised travellers camp, and are calling for legal action to be taken by the district council - who would be responsible for any incursions - to prevent anyone from moving onto the site.
Harpenden councillor Mary Maynard said: "Local councillors, residents and our MP Bim Afolami have been working hard to prevent an unauthorised encampment on Green Belt land that has been cleared outside Redbourn. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure."
MP Bim Afolami added: "I have been extremely focused on this over the past week, and have spoken with the police, the district council, local landowners, and Parliamentary colleagues with extensive experience on these matters.
"As a community, we are mobilised and ready to do what we can to stop an illegal encampment on that site. The best way of doing this is for the district council to take court action urgently as a preventative measure. I have also been discussing what actions local landowners can take - and that they may also take legal action if required."
Tracy Harvey, head of planning and building control at St Albans district council said: “Our planning enforcement team is aware of tree felling, with a Forestry Commission licence, at a privately owned site near Redbourn, and is currently investigating.
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"Where a clear breach of planning regulations takes place, the council will take the appropriate steps and action where it has the evidence to do so.”
Burhill Golf and Leisure Limited (BGLL), owners and operators of Redbourn Golf Club, are aware of the ongoing situation.
A spokesperson said: "The golf club have restrictive covenants over the land. Primarily, limiting its use to the cultivation of Christmas (or similar) trees. As such, our lawyers are looking into the recent activity and will be advising us on the proper course of action that should be taken to ensure that these covenants are not broken. We will continue to monitor the site in order to update our legal team."