Dunwich: Forestry Commission urged to start heath clean-up

WOODLAND bosses came under fire last night for failing to clear an area of countryside popular with walkers.

The Forestry Commission was urged to keep its word over its promises for Westleton Heath at Dunwich.

A row first erupted around 18 months ago when the Government department announced plans to cut down a large number of American oaks on the site.

Residents were furious and bosses met with the then Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer in a bid to alleviate people’s fears, assuring them the area would flourish.

But a large number of branches are still covering the site and Richard Chamberlain, who walks his doberman, Jet, on the heath, is keen to see the work started.

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Last night the Forestry Commission said it was aware of his concerns, adding that the clean-up would begin soon but it had been delayed by nesting birds.

Mr Chamberlain, 76, from Westleton, said: “We were told the land would be cleared and planted with heather to make it lovely again and birds would nest and butterflies would return.

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“But at the moment the trees have been cut down and all the branches left laying around. It looks terrible.

“There is no way that any smaller plants or anything nice can fight its way through.

“Why can’t the authorities keep their word? They should clear the area as soon as possible so that it can be enjoyed again.”

The Forestry Commission’s Simon Leatherdale, who is responsible for site, said the heathland would eventually be a place of beauty.

“There are currently a pair of woodlarks on site and two nightjars were present as the contract was finishing, so any work now would be inappropriate,” he said. “Removal of the harvesting residue will take place after the conclusion of the nesting season, the contract having been agreed a matter of days ago.

“Mr Chamberlain is clearly keen to see this site restored to it’s full glory – and rightly so – but it must be achieved with due regard to nature’s timescale.”

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