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Hornchurch residents challenge diggers to try and protect local forestry

A large number of trees were cut down and dug up last Saturday (Credit: Clare Barton) 

People in Hornchurch have faced down diggers and men with chainsaws to save a nearby area of trees. 

Residents in Copthorne Gardens awoke to loud mechanical noises at around 8am on Saturday, 6 March. 

The owner of the woodland, which runs adjacent to the road, had been asked by Havering Council to trim some overhanging trees as they were affecting lorries during their waste collections. 

“Instead of that, they went straight onto the piece of land and they’ve cleared a huge number of trees,” said Kevan Wilding, 61, who lives in Copthorne Gardens. 

“They have cleared lots of bramble and physically taken out some large trees and physically removed them from the ground.

“I actually went onto the piece of land and stood between the two tractors and an angry man with a chainsaw for about ten minutes.” 

Residents could not stop them from destroying some of the trees (Credit: Clare Barton)

Police attended the scene and asked Kevan to move as he was on private land which he said was “fair enough”. 

Councillor Bob Perry was also called to the area and he convinced the manager to put a stop to the work until Havering Council enforcement officers could come down to the site. 

At around 3pm they arrived and told the workers to desist as the area was subject to a tree preservation order. 

“After assessing the situation the officer asked the contractor to stop work, which he did,” said a spokesperson for Havering Council. 

“The land is subject to a 1987 tree preservation order and we have since issued a new order while we carry out an investigation into the site.”

People living in the area are still worried the landowner will submit a planning application and attempt to build over the woodland. 

“They don’t need to build houses on a piece of green belt which is actually a refuge for birds,” said Kevan. “There’s lots of wildlife there and it looks like a bit of scrubland but it is not fair for the animals let alone the people who live opposite.” 

Kevan has appealed for local politicians to help prevent any further development on the site if an application is submitted. 

Cllr Bob Perry said: “Sadly the area sustained severe damage to many trees which will hopefully result in the council taking appropriate action in this matter.

“I wish to personally thank the council officers who attended, the police who were extremely efficient and impartial in the interests of both parties, but my biggest thanks go to the residents of Copthorne Gardens whose dogged determination to preserve their area won through in the end.”

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