Fury after trees flattened and paths damaged

Photo Emma Mitchell 11.09.17  Photo of Muirhead Councillor John McLaren with furious residents at Muirhead
Photo Emma Mitchell 11.09.17 Photo of Muirhead Councillor John McLaren with furious residents at Muirhead

Residents in a North Lanarkshire village are up in arms after a development company flattened woodland behind their homes and damaged public footpaths.

The Forestry Commission is investigating the felling of dozens of trees behind Belhaven Housing Estate, at Muirhead, by workers from Bellshill firm Advance Construction just over a week ago.

Police Scotland’s Wildlife Crime Unit are also looking into the possible displacement of a colony of bats in the area, which are protected by law.

North Lanarkshire councillor John McLaren and local MP Hugh Gaffney have also expressed their outrage.

Councillor McLaren said: “The firm who owns this land made entry to this site which is landlocked without informing the local authorities that they were intending to use a public footpath next to it to gain entry.

“No safety measures were put in place as residents were still using the path during this operation.

“Heavy machinery was used and they have felled a substantial amount of trees leaving this like a scene from a hurricane. Wildlife was not considered as a colony of bats nest on this site.

“Meetings have now been arranged between the authority and company to establish how this area will be safely cleared and returned to its woodland state.”

Mr Gaffney said he was disappointed with the actions of the firm and has written to the Chief Executive of the council, the company and the Forestry Commission.

Resident Roseann Price said: “I stay in the Heathfield Grange estate at Belhaven Park and my perimeter fence faces on to this woodland area.

“We were told nothing would be built behind us as this was woodland and the 
area was landlocked and also a sound barrier for our homes from the busy A80.

“I am totally disgusted how this firm could come in and cause this devastation.”

Another resident posted on social media: “I saw a woman struggling to get through the path with her buggy due to the mess they left. A lot of older people use this path and could slip and fall”.

A Forestry Commission spokesperson said: “We are aware of this situation and have been in discussion with the council. Forestry Commission Scotland takes all allegations of illegal fellings very seriously. We are now fully investigating to see if further
 action is needed.”

A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council said the council had highlighted the felling of the trees to the Forestry Commission but the council itself could not do anything as the trees were not subject to a preservation order.

He added the council’s roads section were in discussion with Advance Construction Ltd about repairing and replacing damaged sections of the footpath.

Despite repeated requests from the Herald, no one at 
Advance Construction was available for comment.