WORK to fell trees by a housing developer during bird nesting season has been delayed after the Gazette raised questions about the legality of it.

As previously reported in the Gazette, members of the public raised concerns about Vistry Homes Thames Valley felling trees along the A30 when birds could be nesting there.

The work was due to begin on Monday in preparation for the 750-home Hounsome Fields development.

Despite reassurance from the developer that the work was being carried out “in accordance with regulations”, it has now delayed the work to find out whether it is in fact allowed to fell trees during bird nesting season after the Gazette raised questions about this.

The Gazette questioned why the work is being carried out during bird nesting season, going against the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which states tree work should be delayed when birds are nesting between March and August.

Despite numerous attempts to find out further information from Vistry Homes, the developer has not responded to any further questions, including why the work did not begin on Monday as planned.

However, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has now confirmed that the developer is making enquiries as to whether it needs a licence to fell trees while birds could be nesting there.

Ruth Ormella, head of planning sustainability and infrastructure at the borough council, said: “The developer delayed planned tree felling at Hounsome Fields so that enquiries with Natural England into the conditions of the licence could be clarified. The developer has a licence which covers their proposed activity in relation to dormice, and it is being clarified if there is a requirement to have a licence for the nesting birds.

“Dormice were not found during the council’s inspection of the site. The requirement for the licence stems from the planning application assessment and associated ecological report which was submitted at that time. We are awaiting an update from Natural England.”

Confusion surrounds who is responsible for the licence, because Natural England has told the Gazette it does not issue licences to fell trees.

Councillor Stephen Reid, Hampshire County Councillor for Basingstoke South East, told the Gazette: “I think it’s the wrong time and they would be well advised to delay until the birds have finished nesting.

“It seems that developers just go ahead as quickly as they can. I’m sad that it could have gone wrong if people hadn’t intervened.”

The application for the development was granted permission in September 2017, with a condition that the work should start within three years of this date, which would be September this year.