Fears for safety of animals after axing of barrier of conifer trees

Lee Ashmore with horse Shameeka and dog Thai
Lee Ashmore with horse Shameeka and dog Thai
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A smallholder in Donington who also uses his land as a refuge for rescued animals says he has been “running around like a headless chicken” since being told conifer trees that act as a barrier to a building site are being ripped out.

Lee Ashmore said he did not object to the plan by Westleigh Developments to build 39 houses and 12 apartments in Malting Lane because he did not realise it would affect the 50 to 60 trees on the boundary of his land.

He said: “I only found out a week and a half ago when I received a letter from Westleigh and since then I’ve been running around like a headless chicken worrying about my animals getting out on to the building site.

“I have horses, dogs, cats and chickens which all run free and could get injured. I’m not a registered refuge, I grow plants here, but people have heard I take animals in and that’s why I have ended up with them.

“When the building started I put up a temporary fence as an extra barrier to stop them getting through but it’s not very secure.

“There are also nesting birds in the trees. What’s going to happen to them? The 1981 Bird and Wildlife Act says trees should not be removed when birds are nesting.

“I went to the council (South Holland District Council) and they said it was a civil matter and advised me to get in touch with the police and papers.”

Mr Ashmore said he had also been in touch with the Land Registry because he said there used to be a dyke the other side of the trees which was filled in by a previous owner.

He said: “I thought the trees were on my property but according to Westleigh they are not.

“They are due to be removed either today or tomorrow – I don’t know what else I can do to stop it.”

Gary Turner, head of partnerships and investments at Westleigh, said: “In line with the planning consent, works to remove a row of conifer trees along a boundary of our Maltings Lane site in Donington will commence this week.

“Due to the levels, they will be replaced with a permanent retaining wall finished with close board fencing. The design and style of wall has been agreed with South Holland District Council and the works will take around three weeks to complete.

“We are aware of Mr Ashmore’s concerns but would like to reassure him that the new wall will provide a secure boundary.

“As at all our developments we will continue to work closely with our partners and the local community at this development and endeavour to complete the works as quickly as possible.”