PEOPLE POWER TO THE RESCUE
A SEFTON housing organisation says it will carry on with plans to cut down woodland in Ainsdale - despite furious protestors blocking contractors from moving on to the site this week.
Work was due to get underway on flattening the wood off George Drive on Tuesday (April 25) but before any contractors could even begin to unload their equipment, they were chased off by an angry group waiting for them to arrive..
Around twenty campaigners including local councillors, residents and woodland activists cordoned off part of the road, essentially forcing contractors to turn round and leave the area because they were unable to offload portable cabins and vital tree cutting equipment.
Merseyside Police were called to ensure they could facilitate a peaceful protest as the two groups met.
Sefton Council last month approved plans for One Vision Housing to build 18 homes on the woodland, leaving campaigners furious that trees, animals and protected wildlife would be destroyed or killed in the process.
Residents in the area – some as young as twelve – vociferously campaigned and opposed the plans but they were nevertheless passed by the Local Authority.
The George Drive woodland is also a ‘soft release’ site for injured and recovering animals who are released back into the wild after being cared for by the Woodlands Animal Rescue Sanctuary.
The peaceful protest was later hailed as a ‘fine example of people power’ by woodland campaigners.Continued inside
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But their fight is not over as One Vision Housing told the Champion they remain committed to building on the land and will not stop.
One of the protestors, woodland campaigner Pat Regan, said of the protest: “This was the day that Ainsdale said ‘No’ to the One Vision Housing countryside wreckers.
“Our small army of protesters, along with councillors Lynne Thompson and Fred Weavers halted One Vision Housing in their tracks.
“Contractors had planned to erect fencing to seal off the woodland before felling trees – protesters however blocked the road and reminded the Bootle-based OVH that they would be breaking wildlife laws if they axed the woods during nesting season.
“Police soon arrived and we explained to officers that OVH would be breaking the law if they felled trees with so many chicks currently in the woodland. Therefore, authorities are aware of the ecological situation.
“Police advised that OVH could not put fencing up due to the birds nesting.
“The fight is not over though and we need more helpers so jump onboard and join the battle to save the woodlands! People power works!”
Ainsdale councillor Lynne Thompson added: “Residents in George Drive feel like they’re just being pushed around by One Vision again and again and again.
“To our knowledge, they had certain conditions they had to meet, and haven’t. We believe those conditions are still in place and are very concerned they’re not being followed.”
Nearby resident Margaret Pierce is a volunteer for Woodlands Animal Sanctuary and uses the woodlands as a site for releasing animals back into the wild.
She told the Champion: “The residents of George Drive received notification that the first trees would have been felled on Tuesday so we protested on site to try and prevent this from happening.
“We as a community are very passionate about our woodland area, children play there and it is home to many wild animals, birds and insects.
“Some protected species have made it their home but this doesn't seem to worry Sefton Council or OVH who seem to have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to our concerns and protests.”
A spokesperson for One Vision Housing said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to provide high quality and affordable homes, in line with the Local Authority housing strategy, One Vision Housing will build 18 homes for affordable rent in George Drive, Ainsdale.”