A WILDLIFE campaign group has hit out after trees were felled from a site near where a new road is being proposed in Dunfermline.

The Save the Calais Woods Wildlife group believes between 50 and 60 trees were chopped down on land near Dunlin Drive without warning last week.

As reported previously in the Press, plans have been submitted by Shepherd Offshore to create a southern access road serving new homes near the £180 million super campus site.

The campaign group held a protest on March 7 to voice their objections.

"Basically, it substantiates what our campaign has been about from day one – developments around the woodland are going to have an effect on the woodland," he said.

"This is the first roll of the dice and they have come and chopped down a lot of trees that they never stated they were going to chop down.

"This line of trees has not been identified within the Shepherd site application. Fife Council has confirmed it was in the Shepherd Offshore boundary but there is nothing about them in the current or previous application that they were going to be removed.

"They cut through part of the Fife Development Plan green network and the work was carried out without any signage or cordoned-off areas despite walkers, children, cyclists and dogs.

"The proposal is still a live planning application: serious questions should be asked as to why these particular trees have been cleared."

When the felled trees were discovered, Forestry Scotland stepped in and told workers to cease work until an investigation was carried out.

It has since concluded that Shepherd had not broken the law – but if it fells any more trees it could become liable for prosecution.

A Scottish Forestry spokesman said: “As part of our investigation, our staff visited the site and carried out a visual assessment of the felled timber.

“We have estimated that the amount of timber felled is under the limit of five cubic metres, therefore we don’t believe any offence has taken place. In this case, no further action from Scottish Forestry is needed.

“However, we have advised the landowner and contractor that any further felling on the site would likely give rise to an offence being committed.”

Fife Council service manager Alastair Hamilton confirmed the council was looking into the issue. "However, there was no statutory protection of the trees at the site, and the council's planning service therefore has no control over the felling or removal of trees," he explained.

"Depending on the number of trees, a felling licence may be required by Scottish Forestry. Anyone felling trees should also follow any wildlife legislation to make sure the trees are not home to any protected species or nesting birds at the time of felling."

Collier International, who act for Shepherd Offshore, were approached for comment but had not responded by the time the Press went to print.