By Phil Belden
The former owner of Pondtail Wood, who illegally felled trees in its centre, imported materials and made tracks, has avoided a public inquiry into enforcement by selling the wood and passing on the liability.
The new owner has made initial contact with Sussex Wildlife Trust, and thanks the Trust and locals for their time and involvement in the wood’s protection over the last few months. He is hoping to reinstate the woodland, over time and subject to funds, to “redeem the woodland to its former beauty and improve its biodiversity”.
He appreciates that the first major job will be removing the materials (the inert hardcore). However, following the early Spring rains, the site is water-logged, so to avoid any more damage, this would best be done late summer and talks are in progress on this matter with the planning authority, the South Downs National Park Authority.
More immediately, there are some health & safety issues. The previous owner was stopped in the middle of tree-felling and there are a few trees that have been left in a dangerous state. The urgent priority job is thus to make safe and remove any danger from half-cut trees falling down.
The owner is in contact with the Forestry Commission to seek their approval for some basic works to remove a couple of trees by the roadside which have fallen into each other and a small number of non-native conifers that were being prepared for felling, three have already fallen over. The Forestry Commission will sanction the necessary control works, following which there will be the sound of chain-saws once again, so if you are passing don’t be alarmed if you see this safety work in progress.
Finally, for now, please note that this is a private woodland and you should not enter it, not least because of the dangers from the hung-up and half-cut trees.