Work stops on Chosen Hill

Worried wildlife lovers have been told no more ground work will take place on land at Chosen Hill.

A campaign group has been established to help preserve the character and wildlife on the hill after clearance work began on the 12 acre site.

The beauty spot is popular with walkers, and a haven for wild flowers, rare orchids, nesting birds and badgers. But residents who lived nearby became concerned work was continuing without necessary wildlife surveys taking place.

Land owner Nick Chapman, who grew up in Churchdown, has cleared around a third of the land that he plans to re-turf and use for grazing for horses.

He insists a change of use planning application is ongoing and is awaiting a report on sloping before it can be rubber stamped.

Mr Chapman also said he had a meeting with immediate neighbours of the land prior to the work, advising him of his intentions.

“There are some wooded areas where there are sets, but I have not touched that part of the land. And the orchids are also not in danger of being damaged in any way.

“The work I’ve done to date is all I’m going to do. I’m staggered this is considered to be a story. The work has stopped. It is nimbyism.

“I have had some people come up to me apologising for the over reaction from some others in the community.”

Ted Stevens, who lives near to the land, has led calls for the land to be protected.

He said: “We are launching a campaign to try to get the work stopped until full permissions, ecology surveys, access agreements and planning is applied for.

“The Churchdown Hill Alliance includes organisations and individuals concerned about the loss of wildlife habitat and the cavalier attitude being shown by the new owner of the land.”

So far, the group has contacted MPs, councillors, conservationists and the police wildlife officer.

Volunteers from the Friends of Churchdown Hill group have been helping clear and maintain footpaths in the area for almost 30 years.

Sarah Moore, clerk at Hucclecote Parish Council, said: “We are very concerned about the wildlife – possible nesting birds, badgers, and bats. Therefore I have reported it to Gloucestershire Police.”

Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Development Control Manager Paul Skelton said the council had also been contacted about the issue and is now investigating if there has been any planning breaches on the land.

He said: “Planning permission is not normally required for clearing land as such however if it is proposed to use the land for purposes other than agriculture, or to erect any buildings, then planning permission may well be needed.”

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police confirmed they had been informed about the land clearance and are reviewing the complaint made against the owner.

He said further evidence to prove damage to wildlife habitats was required before the police wildlife officer would intervene further.