THE felling of a piece of woodland has sparked alarm among ramblers.
There were fears that the site, at Oaken Copse, Skinners Green, Enborne, had been illegally cleared as part of an undecided planning application at nearby Wash Common Farm.
One visitor to the woodland, Chris Barnes, said: “I cannot believe that a piece of ancient woodland such as this could be allowed to be so drastically removed from the landscape.
“The trees, mostly oak, were mature and in good health – there is no evidence that there has been any selective thinning of old or diseased wood.
“I estimate that the wood has reduced in size by about 70 per cent – all but clear felled.”
West Berkshire Council was alerted and a spokeswoman, Joanne Bassett, said: “The council is aware of the work going on. However, the site is not covered by a Conservation Area and does not have a Tree Preservation Order on it.”
The matter was therefore under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Commission, she added.
This week an administrative officer for the Forestry Commission, Alison Godenzi, revealed that the felling operation was legal.
She said: “I have spoken to our woodland officer who has confirmed that there is a felling licence granted as part an approved management plan.”
The felling permission will be conditional and the open areas are to be restocked as part of the agreement.
Mr Barnes expressed relief that the felling was authorised and said: “I would like to highlight the Forestry Commission has been very helpful in providing information to me on request.”
He encouraged other users of the local countryside to challenge potentially unauthorised felling.