Gower tree felling appeal: Damage worst expert had seen, court hears

Jeff Lane is appealing his conviction after he was found guilty of illegally chopping down the equivalent of 12 football fields of protected woodland
Jeff Lane is appealing his conviction after he was found guilty of illegally chopping down the equivalent of 12 football fields of protected woodland

Damage caused to felled woodland was "the most significant" one forestry expert had seen, a court heard.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said more than 2,000 trees across eight hectares near Fairwood on the Gower peninsula, Swansea, had been chopped down.

Landowner Jeff Lane, 72, is appealing a conviction for illegally cutting down the protected woodland.

Mr Lane, of Old Forge, Fairwood, said he "cut down rotten and decayed trees" to improve the land.

Forestry officer Nicholas Fackrell told Swansea Crown Court about the condition of the site during visits by woodland experts.

Mr Fackrell said the environmental impact of the felling on the land was "by far the most significant" he had seen.

Areas of ancient woodland had been "completely felled and removed".

Andrew Wright, of NRW, told the court he found "blatant" and "shocking" damage when he visited the site.

Arboricultural consultant Mark Chester disputed the number of trees felled, saying he believed the number was 362 and that he had seen no evidence of it being as high as 2,000.

Mr Lane said he bought the site in 2017 and found most of the trees to be "completely water logged and rotten".

He said he had intended to "drain the site, because nothing's going to grow in that".

After being asked multiple times not to fell trees he said he continued to because he felt he had no other option.

"I asked them on multiple occasions, 'What am I supposed to do?'," he said.

"The place is falling apart."

The case has been adjourned to a later date.