Chris Packham 'not drinking any more Heineken' after thousands of apple trees felled

A leading wildlife broadcaster has said he will not be drinking "any more" Heineken after the company felled thousands of trees in one of its orchards.

Chris Packham said the decision to cut the trees on land in Monmouthshire near the border between England and Wales was a "tragic waste of a fabulous resource".

The BBC reported thousands of apple trees had been cut on 300 acres of land at Penrhos Farm.

The company, which owns Bulmer's, says it plans to sell the land due to a lack of demand for cider and a surplus of apples.

But Chris Packham, best known for presenting series such as Springwatch, told Sky News that the decision to fell the trees was "immoral".

"In a biodiversity crisis, I would say it's bordering on unethical and certainly immoral because resources like that ought to be passed on to people who can use them to enrich wildlife and human life," he said.

Mr Packham added that he was currently teetotal and had been drinking one of Heineken's alcohol-free products.

"I'm not drinking any more of it, because I just think we want companies in our lives that are looking after our planet and our future and our children's future," he said.

"They had an opportunity to do that and they've just squandered it, I just think it's really short-sighted."

The benefits of orchards, according to the Woodland Trust, include the fact fruit trees age quickly which creates deadwood habitats.


Fellow broadcaster Iolo Williams is calling for a boycott of the company after the "disgraceful" felling.

"I think that with these big companies, the only way [can make our voice heard] is to boycott them, hit them in the pocket," he told Sky News.

"Because I do think, I genuinely think, it's tragic what they've done when we could have helped to tackle the biodiversity crisis, the climate emergency, physical and mental health issues.

"All of these could have been helped just by them saying 'Listen, we're not going to use it again, why don't we give it over to the local community?'"

Charles Watson, chair of River Action UK said the catchment of the River Wye needed "every tree and plant available" if its decline had "any chance of being reversed".

"It is hugely disappointing to see Heineken destroy such a huge volume of natural biomass," he said.

"Yet again the environment is being sacrificed for corporate profit."

'Huge surplus of apples'

A Heineken spokesperson said the company made clear its intention to sell Penrhos Farm, one of two apple farms it owns, in November last year.

"Over a number of years, the cider market has slowed and the yield of apples per acre has increased leading to a huge surplus of apples," they said.

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The spokesperson added that the apples have "no other use than creating cider".

"In order to make best use of the land to grow other crops, the bush orchards had to be removed," they said.

"All the wood is shredded for biomass and the bushes were removed in line with The Wildlife Act."

The company says it "firmly" remains a cider, beer and pub company and sources all of its apples from around 6,000 acres of orchards in and around Herefordshire.