A MAN who built an illegal ‘shanty town’ has pledged to uproot more than 1,000 trees after being ordered to put land he rents ‘back to grass’.

Retired farmer Edward Steele has already begun ripping up scores of pines and beeches he has planted over 40 years at Holme House Farm at Skelsmergh, near Kendal.

The 65-year-old has taken South Lakeland District Council’s enforcement notice to the extreme after he was ordered to remove homes built without planning permission.

Mr Steele, a long-term tenant who sited caravans and constructed lodges on the site, has begun tearing up 1,750 trees using a digger.

Around 15 residents still remain on the site but have been given notice to leave.

Mr Steele said: “The council aren’t bothered about the people who live here, so it would be ridiculous for them to get upset about the wildlife.

“I created this site and the caravans supported the wildlife area.

“If there are no people allowed here then I will need to use the land again.

“I feel gutted but they have forced me into this position.

“I have created something, they don’t want it. I might as well destroy it all.

“Let’s make a show of it. It’s a shame – but there you go.”

Graham Tibbetts, spokesman for Natural England, said they had advised Mr Steele to hire an ecological consultant to make him aware of any laws that needed to be observed.

Mr Tibbetts added: “If he has planted the trees himself and he takes them all down, that’s up to him.”

Mr Steele has until November 28 to remove the residents, who occupy six of the lodges on site. Last month’s court case also ruled he must restore land back to its original state by next April and pay court costs of £3,883.

A spokesperson for South Lakeland District Council, said: “SLDC will not be commenting on Holme House Farm at the present time due to ongoing legal action.”