Anger has erupted over the sudden destruction of ancient woodland leaving a muddy wasteland in its wake.
Now the Forestry Commission is investigating the felling of the trees at Burleys Wood in Pound Hill, Crawley.
Meanwhile a new group - Burleys Wood Conservation Campaign - has been set up by Christine Hulme Schauerman, who lives nearby.
Christine was shocked when she discovered the ‘mass destruction’ on her way back from work last Tuesday. “We are devastated and hearbroken,” she said.
She added that no warnings, letters or information had been given before the trees were felled and she feared that other sites could face a similar fate. “If these people get away with this one no small patch of woodland is truly safe,” she said.
A spokesman for the Forestry Commission said: “We are investigating reports of suspected unlicensed tree felling at Pound Hill in West Sussex.
“We are not able to go into further detail while investigations are ongoing.”
A spokeswoman for Crawley Borough Council confirmed that a planning application from the firm 3242 Investments Ltd had been received for development of the site “which we are currently assessing.”
But, she said that the council had been alerted to the tree felling on Monday and had issued a Tree Protecton Order “immediately to cover all of the trees in the area and protect what is left of the important amenity space.
“The contractor stopped working and hasn’t restarted. However, a significant number of trees and shrubs were chopped down before we were informed. None of the removed trees had tree protection orders.”
She said the new order would be valid for six months “during which time a consultation will take place with local residents with a view to making it a more permanent order.
“It means that no further works can be done without the council’s knowledge and agreement. Breaching this would be a criminal offence.”