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UPSET residents in the Murray Walk area are calling for action to be taken after work carried out in the fields owned by Cooper Tire Europe caused devastating damage to trees, hedgerows and the habitats of protected species of wildlife.
Earlier this month, local resident Sue Stoker was horrified to witness the damage being caused by a man on a tractor. “Myself, my husband and many friends who regularly walk our dogs down Murray Walk, were really horrified to see the appalling environmental vandalism that has been caused to the entrances to the fields at the top of the walk,” she said. “On Friday 13th October, we came across a man in a tractor causing the damage. Not only were a number of well established fruit trees destroyed, but so were quite a few shrubs and bushes, which were home to a number of wild birds, but rubbish was dumped across the entrances to the badger sets as well as a ‘dam/bridge’ of rubble placed across the stream near where the swans have nested for the past few years.”
The rubble in the stream has also caused damage to the habitat of water voles, known to be in the area, which are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Distressed by the damage caused to plants and the threat to wildlife, residents involved their local councillor, Martin Pain, to help resolve the problem and also reported the incident to the Environment Agency.
The land is owned by Cooper Tire Europe, and rented by local farmer Tim Farthing from Halfway House Farm in Beanacre. He said, “The Environment Agency had told me that the bridge I use to access the land, known as Black Bridge, was unsafe and that I could no longer use it.
“With a hurricane approaching I needed emergency access to my maize crops to harvest them before damage could be caused. With Cooper’s permission I built a temporary crossing through the grass fields and into the river flat where my maize was.
“I didn’t believe that I was doing any harm. As soon as a resident told me about the badger sett, I stopped. I plan to rectify what’s been done. I will be removing the stone and rubble from the brook and then we will be applying for permission from Wiltshire Council to lay a pipe under the bridge over the brook so water can flow and I can still access the land.”
Marketing communications manager for Cooper Tire Europe, Sarah McRoberts added, “As a local employer and landowner, Cooper Tire Europe takes its responsibilities very seriously. We are taking advice from experts and are conferring with our tenant to formulate a plan of action to address the situation.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said, “We have investigated this incident alongside the local authority, which is responsible for flood risk in this area. We have been in discussion with the relevant party, who has indicated that the situation will be rectified.”