FOUR acres of green belt land have been cleared on the edge of an industrial estate, leaving residents in the area outraged.

A woodland area on the edge of Manor Trading Estate, Benfleet, has been completely cleared, allegedly without planning permission from Castle Point Council

The area has been subject to several planning applications in the past, which have all been rejected by the council as it looks to preserve the green belt.

John Rickwood, chairman of the Manor Trading Estate, refused to discuss the situation with the Echo, given no information as to who was responsible and why the land had been cleared.

And residents in the area, particularly those in neighbouring Keswick Road, are outraged that the work went ahead over the space of four days last week.

One Keswick Road resident, who asked not to be named, said: “He has cleared about four acres of land.

“Literally if you look on Google earth, and then at the site now, it couldn’t be more different.

“It was a massive field, full of trees and wildlife, now it is nothing.

“Over the last week they have completely flattened the whole piece of land.

“It is dreadful.”

The area was “alive with wildlife” previously, and was home to a number of badger setts.

With the woodland area cleared, residents no longer look out onto open space, but instead are faced with piles of trees and the sight of the industrial estate.

A resident also stated the woodland acted as a buffer to sound from the area, noticing a huge increase in noise over the last week.

The resident added: “They have opened the land right up, I used to look out onto wildlife, now you can see right through to the industrial estate.

“We have lost the sound buffer as well now, and you can hear them constantly.

“It was a massive area of green belt land, and now it is just covered in piles of trees.

“The council have fought to stop development on there a number of times and to keep it as greenbelt, and now they have just ruined it.

“We are all up in arms, no one can quite believe it.

“I really couldn’t guess what they are planning, maybe an extension of the estate, maybe they want to sell it off.

“Who knows, but it isn’t right.”

Castle Point Council failed to respond to the Echo’s request for comment prior to going to print when asked whether the removal of trees o the land had been granted adequate permission by the council.