Kent

Clearance of wildlife habitat investigated by Kent Police

Cleared woodland
Image caption About a third of an acre of scrubland has been cut down

The clearance of part of an area of outstanding natural beauty by contractors working for the National Grid is being investigated by Kent Police.

About a third of an acre of scrubland at Bredhurst, near Maidstone was cleared by contractors working for the National Grid last week.

Locals claimed that the work had killed protected wildlife.

The National Grid said an "urgent investigation" was being carried out.

The National Grid has to keep pylons and overhead cables free of trees.

Vanessa Jones, of Bredhurst Woodland Action Group, said: "This was an area of dense scrub - it was a habitat that was prolific with bird life.

"The police visited the site and they found five or six nests that had been destroyed, crushed eggs, parts of birds.

"There was also a mutilated adder that I found earlier in the week.

Image caption Vanessa Jones, of Bredhurst Woodland Action Group, said she found a mutilated adder

"We understand that maintenance work for the power cables has to be done, but why they've picked this time of year is just heartbreaking."

Consultant ecologist Lee Brady said he was "very concerned" that the work appeared to have been done "without due regard to the presence of protected species".

"In particular the nesting bids and also, for me, the main concern is the presence of important reptile populations, especially adder," he said.

Kent Police said the force was looking into whether a crime had been committed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Managers from the National Grid and its contractors have met with volunteers and experts at the site.

A spokesman said an "urgent investigation" was being carried out.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites