Angry residents gathered at the scene of felled yew trees this week that they claim were removed with ‘no prior consultation’ and ‘ruined a magical place’.
At the peak of Bignor Hill by Stane Street in Sutton lies beautiful rolling hills on the outskirts of the South Downs National Park, but residents said the view had been ‘ruined’ after 55 yew trees were removed for grazing.
Neighbour to the landscape, Sean Cemm, told the County Times that the only notification offered to residents was a mention in a ‘single local paper’.
He said: “People just felt they were not consulted.
“The trees have been there between 80 to 90 years. Many have grown up with these yew trees and remember it as a really magical place.”
Author of ‘The South Downs: A Painted Year’ Antonia Green said: “This place was a wealth of flowers and this has always been one of my inspirations, but I cannot cope with the way they took the trees down.
“When I first saw it I felt sick, I couldn’t believe it. The whole place has changed beyond recognition.”
The tree felling, which took place in March, is the start of a ten-year project to rejuvenate the land, which will include the grazing of Sussex beef cattle.
A Sutton Parish Council meeting was held on July 10, where representatives for the National Trust and South Downs National Park (SDNP) explained the rationale behind the decision.
Mr Cemm said it was explained at the meeting that yew trees were poisonous to cattle and not conducive to the increase of glow worms and orchids.
Sutton resident David Eatock said: “I want to know who made the final decision.
“Apparently there were notices put up, but no one saw them.”
Bury resident Keith Miller saw the trees being cut down in March and claimed that the SDNP would have gone to the Forestry Commission to get permission granted.
The County Times contacted the Forestry Commission for comment, but no response was received by the time of going to press.