The devastation of a copse of mature oak trees at a West Wight caravan park is being investigated by the Forestry Commisson.

Residents of the Cranmore area estimate more than 70 oaks and other trees — home to red squirrels, dormice, bats and birds — were chopped down by contractors over the weekend.

Silver Glades Caravan Park park is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

A spokesperson for the Forestry Commission said: “We take the protection of trees and woodlands extremely seriously, and won’t hesitate to investigate any allegations of illegal tree felling.

“If there’s no felling licence or other valid permission in place, or if the wrong trees are felled, we will take action.”

On seeing the operation start last Saturday, residents immediately rang the Isle of Wight Council, via candidate in Freshwater North and Yarmouth Peter Spink, but they could not visit until the Monday.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "There is an area of woodland on the three acre site and it is about one and a half acres of woodland which contains a lot of quite tall, mature oak trees.

"The new owners have just come in and flattened the lot over the weekend, starting Saturday into Sunday and they were still there on Monday, grinding it into a pulp.

"The area has been decimated, we are in an AONB. It is the first time the owner has come here and there was no care for the environment whatsoever. We tried to talk to him and he had not a care in the world.

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“The wildlife is all protected by laws but here he is knocking down the trees in the middle of spring at breeding time. We are all absolutely disgusted by the behaviour.

Isle of Wight County Press: The trees felled at Silver Glades.

“The caravan site is very small, only ten units. It only has a licence for 12. It is all about being in woodland part of nature, part of wildlife.

"They started cutting, felling and bulldozing right up to the boundary edge.

“The council's tree officer said it would be escalated on Monday but it is flattened and too late. The damage is done.

"There are no TPOs on the trees and even though it was an AONB he said there may not be much he can do."

The residents say there is no felling licence lodged with Forestry England and they have contacted the body to see what can be done.

Mr Spink said: “I went to Silverglades, there was heavy machinery on site and a large number of mature trees had been ripped out of the ground.

“I spoke to the contractors who said that they were just doing a job for the owner. They claimed not to have the contact details of the owner, nor did they know whether or not he had permission to carry out the work.

“Despite claiming that he was unable to contact the owner, the contractor returned with his mobile phone with the owner holding on the line.

"I asked him to email me a copy of any permission that he had been given; he told me to clear off his land.

"I managed to get his word that no further felling would take place until the matter could be investigated on Monday when the tree-officer would be working. Needless to say felling work continued and the site has now been substantially cleared.

“It is believed the site was being cleared to make room for further units but no planning application had been made.

“The incident is being looked into by the Forestry Commission as a felling licence is required for clearance on this scale, and by the Police under the Wildlife Act.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Silver Glades Campsite area

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: "We received a report on April 26 of a number of trees being cleared in the Cranmore area.

"Police are working alongside the Forestry Commission and the local authority to establish if any offences have been committed, and enquiries remain ongoing."

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm the trees are within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), on private land and do not benefit from Tree Protection Orders (TPOs) or conservation area protection.

“It is not known who did the work, however depending on the amount of wood removed they may have had to apply for a felling licence from Forestry England.

"Given the age of the trees it is also probable they housed protected habitats such as birds, bats and potentially squirrels which may have been disturbed.

"Such disturbance could be contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

“Neither of these are within the Isle of Wight Council’s jurisdiction and it understands that the Island’s Forestry Commission officer and the police wildlife and countryside liaison officer have been notified of the situation.”

The owners of the site have been approached for comment.

Felling licences, What are they?

  • Before anyone can cut down trees, they may need to get a felling licence from the Forestry Commission; depending on whether an exemption to the need for a licence applies.
  • In addition to a felling licence, other permissions to fell the trees may also be required. Further details can be found at:  
  • Felling trees without the authority of a felling licence, where one was required, currently carries a penalty upon conviction in a Magistrates Court of £2,500 or twice the value of the timber felled. Provisions within the Environment Bill which is currently before Parliament, will increase this penalty to an unlimited fine, set at the discretion of the Court.
  • The Forestry Commission is empowered to serve a Restocking Notice upon the individual responsible for the land where unlicensed tree felling occurred, either with or without having secured a conviction. This Notice compels the individual served to restock the land with trees. Failure to comply with this Notice will result in an Enforcement Notice being issued, which, if not complied with, may result in a separate offence being committed which carries a penalty of an unlimited fine.
  • You can report suspected illegal tree felling at: