East Devon District Council has moved to prevent more trees being felled at a business park near Woodbury Salterton.
“A tree preservation order has been made after concerns were raised about trees being removed at Greendale Business Park, off the A3052.
It comes as owner FWS Carter & Sons Ltd is set to appeal against the council’s refusal of planning permission for an extended compound, warehouse and office building on the eastern edge of the site.
Groundworks on the scheme, including the removal of some trees, started in March last year, before a planning application was submitted in November.
Planning consent was refused by East Devon District Council in July this year.
Earlier this month, the council confirmed a tree preservation order to safeguard the remaining trees on the eastern side of the business park.
The trees were planted some years ago to provide screening to mitigate the impact of the industrial estate on the surrounding rural area.
Councillor Geoff Jung, the local ward member on the district council, claims between 300 and 450 trees have been removed – but the developer says only 50 have been cleared.
Georgina Turner, owner of the nearby Brooklands Caravan Park, which overlooks the site, said: “It’s affecting my house as well as my livelihood.
“When we bought this place 18 months ago, the holiday park was protected from the industrial estate by this thick band of trees, so you couldn’t hear it or see it.
“Since they removed the trees, people coming here on holiday have commented on the noise. It has put some people off. People want to go on holiday somewhere peaceful and quiet.
“Even if they were to replant the trees, it will take another 15 years for them to grow, so it’s not going to be an immediate solution.”
Councillor Jung said: “These trees were specifically planted to act as a semi natural screen to help shield the industrial area from the open countryside and local residential properties.
“We will have to start again and await further planting and years of continual growth to replicate what has been ripped out.”
The planning officer’s report notes that works have been ongoing on the site, where a concrete compound and light commercial unit have been constructed.
FWS Carter & Sons has said around 30 jobs are associated with the new development.
Director Alec Carter said: “Greendale Business Park is a major employment site in East Devon, supporting over 1,300 jobs and contributing well over £16 million to the local economy each year.
“The planning application in question was submitted in November 2015 with a target date for determination in February 2016. The application was not considered until eight months after it was lodged.
“The refusal of the application was surprising given that the majority of the site in question had previously been granted planning consent for a large 1,661 square metre office building.
“The business occupying the site employs 30 people and is predominantly using the area for open storage. A small 120 square metre warehouse is also on the site.
“A planning appeal is being lodged with the Planning Inspectorate against the refusal of the planning application. Two detailed planning applications are also being re-submitted to East Devon District Council.
“Around 50 young trees were removed to accommodate the business site and a number have been replanted on the boundary of the proposed development. The trees were not covered by a Tree Protection Order and their removal is not in breach of Forestry Commission regulations, who were notified at the time.”
The developer has agreed to repay part of a grant from the Forestry Commission which was used to fund the original planting.
It added that over the last 15 years, around 23,000 trees covering 21 hectares have been planted around Greendale Business Park.”