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Council blasted over wildlife site work

PUBLISHED: 23:11 07 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:08 03 March 2010

A LOCAL authority has been criticised for its "cavalier attitude" over work which resulted in damage to a wildlife site.

Suffolk County Council contractors drove vehicles through an ancient hedgerow into a wildflower meadow, it has been alleged.

A LOCAL authority has been criticised for its "cavalier attitude" over work which resulted in damage to a wildlife site.

Suffolk County Council contractors drove vehicles through an ancient hedgerow into a wildflower meadow, it has been alleged.

It is also claimed they heaped spoil from ditch clearance work onto the newly coppiced hedgerow.

The contractors, working in Combs Lane, Stowmarket, had apparently not been told by the council that the site had any particular environmental importance.

However, it was in fact a designated County Wildlife Site and was being managed under the Government's Countryside Stewardship project to protect flowers such as the marsh orchid and the oxslip.

The site, in the valley of the River Rattlesden, is owned by the East Anglian Museum of Rural Life and the incident has led to a letter of complaint being sent to the county council by the chairman of trustees, Andrew Shelley, and operations manager, Harry Barnett.

Mr Barnett said yesterday he was unhappy about the way the work had been carried out without any consultation.

"They spread spoil over our newly coppiced hedge and vehicles caused ruts in our field. We were horrified," he said.

Mr Barnett said they believed the damage to the site amounted to an infringement of the Countryside Stewardship agreement with the Department for Food and Rural Affairs.

"We're doing our best to help wildlife thrive and they just come along with this cavalier attitude," he added.

Bob Daniels, assistant area highways manager, said the highways authority had accepted responsibility for the "mistake".

"We are extremely sorry for the damage which has been caused to the hedgerow," he said.

Since the incident a site meeting had been held and further work had been carried out with the full agreement of the museum, he added.

A spokesman for the contractors, Ringway Group, said that while he did not have details of the incident in question, any damage caused would have undoubtedly been the result of a failure of communication.

"We take all ecological matters very seriously and take all reasonable precautions to avoid damage," he said.

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