RESIDENTS have clashed over a rare woodland home for wildlife in Ambleside’s conservation area.

The ‘dense and untouched’ land at Gale Rigg off Old Lake Road was sold in summer which sparked fears among residents over its future.

Home to deer, badgers, hedgehogs, squirrels and owls, the Lake District National Park Authority served a tree preservation order (TPO) to stop any from being chopped down.

But owner Kingsley Jones, of Old Lake Road, called the move an ‘inappropriate’ use of park powers and that his management plan was sufficient.

At a national park hearing, Mr Jones spoke against the order while Gale Rigg resident Dr David Earnshaw argued in favour.

At the meeting in Kendal on Wednesday, Dr Earnshaw claimed Mr Jones’  ‘management plan’ would involve a ‘great deal of tree and growth destruction’

“Unless there is a TPO protecting this woodland, it could be destroyed and habitats lost,” said Dr Earnshaw. “Local residents are concerned that with a high sale price of £75,000 and interest from developers, these are pre-moves for a speculative greater plan for the future.”

But Mr Jones, of Old Lake Road, denied this and said he was a writer, outdoors instructor and local mountain rescue team member who cared for the environment.

Mr Jones told the committee: “It’s been portrayed that I’m a builder, an investor, someone who wants to destroy woodland – strip out trees to hack them back, slash and burn. Nothing could be further from the truth and it is completely wrong. I don’t wish to fell trees. I have never laid a brick in my life and I bought the woods for my seven-year-old daughter and family to enjoy. We live around the corner hemmed in by holiday lets and we want to preserve it, use it, enjoy it and keep it.”

Mr Jones complained that residents had used the site as a ‘dump’ for an estimated 12 tonnes of green waste with Mr Earnshaw saying the material had been deposited with the former owners’ permission over 30 years.

Park member Vicky Hughes said she was satisfied a TPO was not needed but committee chairman Geoff Davies said as a ‘valuable’ amenity it was right for the park to take precautions.

The order was agreed five votes in favour with one against.