By Dr Tony Whitbread
Make a mess of something then try to get an unsuspecting soul to buy the liability off you. That seems to be the strategy of the owner of Pondtail Wood in Mid Sussex.
Not content with illegally felling 13 acres, illegally dumping waste and then trying to play for time by “appealing” to the authorities to try and get out of his responsibilities, he is now trying to auction-off all the problems he has caused.
Pondtail Wood is shortly going to auction.
Presumably the owner wants someone to buy the wood without asking too many questions and without realising the liability they are getting into. Be clear, however. Anyone who buys this wood will also be taking on the not inconsiderable liabilities. Clearing the land of waste will not be cheap – goodness knows what has been dumped there. Restoring the landform, including restoring a woodland stream, will entail significant cost. Replanting the wood appropriately, caring for it for at least 10 years and re-stoking if any trees fail will also have to be done at the owner’s expense.
All of this, of course, will have to be made known to any potential purchaser.
In my view, instead of running away the current owner should “man-up”, accept his responsibilities and put right what he has spent some months getting wrong.
If not, well here’s an idea. Let us imagine that there is an incredibly generous person out there who is willing to take on the liability and restore the wood for the greater good for people and the environment. Taking into account the cost of restoration against the original value of the wood, it would be generous to offer 1p for the site. Any takers?