CHAINSAW REPORTS: Increased patrols in Solihull
Concerns have been raised after a man reportedly took a chainsaw to a wildlife woodpile in Solihull, allegedly to provide timber for his log-burner.
A community group has said that the man had been spotted using the power tool in the wooded area behind St Nicholas Church, in Elmdon.
When challenged by a passer-by he is said to have revealed he was collecting materials for fuel.
The incident, which took place earlier this month – with the borough still under strict lockdown – has been flagged with the council’s park rangers.
They have now confirmed they will step up patrols in the area.
Cllr Laura McCarthy (Lib Dem, Elmdon) said it seemed to be an “isolated incident” but there were concerns about someone using heavy-duty equipment without PPE or warning signs in a public area.
“It’s really, really concerning in terms of health and safety,” she said.
“I would hope that people won’t think it’s a good idea.”
She said that council officers had been alerted so they could keep an eye on the area, which forms part of a popular nature reserve.
Flagging the incident, Elmdon Park Support Group said it was clear that this activity wasn’t permitted in any of the borough’s parks or public spaces.
“If everyone took the attitude of this man then there would be no park left for the public to enjoy or the wildlife to thrive,” said a spokesman.
The Woodland Trust, a national conservation charity, warned that both standing trees and fallen wood were “the property of the landowner.”
Nick Sherriff, the trust’s lead property and land manager, said: “Removal of it regardless of whether living or dead, large or small, without the landowner’s permission is theft and against the law.
“People sometimes get confused as they assume deadwood, branches or fallen trees or trees that have been felled and left are okay to take as they are dead and on the ground … this is not true.”
The logs are said to play a “vital” role in the local ecosystem, recycling nutrients and providing a habitat for a range of species which in turn are a food source for larger animals.
Mr Sherriff added: “Anyone with a wood burning stove should be purchasing their firewood from a reputable source and not removing it from local woods unless they have the expressed permission of the landowner.”
A Solihull Council spokesman said: “We do not condone or permit the cutting and/or removing of wood from council-owned land.
“It presents a risk to the individual as well as other park users.
“As a result of recent activity in Elmdon Park, partners in the neighbourhood police have been made aware. We will also be stepping up patrols to ensure that our open spaces are being used safely and appropriately.”
Anyone with concerns about unlawful activity in borough parks is urged to contact Solihull Police on 101.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV