Pondtail Wood - New Owner

, 05 April 2017
Pondtail Wood  - New Owner
wood anemone

By Phil Belden

Conservation Advisor to the Sussex Wildlife Trust

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.

Leave a comment


  • Paul Everest:

    Surely the previous owner must bear some responsibility and be forced to bear some / all of the costs for repairing the damage otherwise they’ll only do it again somewhere else?

    05 Apr 2017 15:55:26

  • Rose Jones:

    Thank goodness Pondtail Wood has now been purchased by a nature lover; someone who appreciates our natural world. A big thank you to them that it will be returned to it’s former glory in time!

    06 Apr 2017 07:47:48

  • Paul – quite a smart move by the old owner, selling it before any judgment on the rights or wrongs of the actions. The planning authority, South Downs National Park Authority, had issued an enforcement notice, but the old owner was contesting his “illegality”, hence the public inquiry.
    In this country we are innocent until proven guilty, so by selling before the inquiry he voided any later enforcement, for he wouldn’t be able to comply if he lost, as he no longer owned the wood (of course, we can’t assume he would have been found to be in the wrong, or right, that would have been the outcome of the inquiry).
    Rose – let’s hope the new owner is a nature lover; the early signs are good, he has purchased an outstanding liability, promised to remove the dumped materials and re-plant the felled part of the wood. The SDNPA and Forestry Commission will hold this new owner to this over the next few months to ensure he practises what he preaches.

    11 Apr 2017 15:19:06

  • maurice e boyce:

    There should be much stiffer penalties for felling trees without a permit,the paltry sum now , is NO DETERRENT !!!

    09 May 2017 09:07:42