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Neighbours complain after Natural England lets millionaire developer cut down trees

Bill Buckler's £3 million mansion
Bill Buckler's £3 million mansion

Neighbours have complained after a millionaire was allowed to fell 28 trees on a protected site at the end of his garden, improving the sea views from his house.

Bill Buckler, the owner of Bayview Developments, commissioned tree surgeons to carry out a survey of the mature maritime pines that stood on the sloping cliff at the bottom of his new £3 million mansion, which he has owned since 2020.

The area at Canford Cliffs in Poole, Dorset, is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The move was approved by Natural England, which agreed with Mr Buckler that felling the 30ft trees would help protect the cliff from erosion and improve the habitat for rare reptiles such as sand lizards.

It would also stop any of the trees from falling and landing on members of the public walking on the promenade 100ft below.

But neighbours have questioned Mr Buckler’s motivation and pointed out that the sea views from the end of his back garden have vastly improved since the work was done.

Aerial photographs show how a 50ft wide path has been cleared on the cliff directly behind Mr Buckler’s home.

They also show what appears to be a large sun terrace area being built next to the cliff edge, where the trees had stood.

Mark Glowacki, a neighbour of Mr Buckler, accused him of turning the setting into a concrete jungle.

“I suspect he has done it to improve his view,” he said.

Another neighbour agreed and said: “We like the trees, I think they enhance the view.”

Bill Buckler bought the plot of land in 2020 before demolishing the original bungalow and building the mansion
Bill Buckler bought the plot of land in 2020 before demolishing the original bungalow and building the mansion

A report submitted by tree specialists to Natural England stated the trees on the cliff had grown so tall they were at risk of toppling over in strong south-westerly winds. If that happened, the report stated, they would take chunks out of the cliff and undermine its stability.

Andrew Scott, a tree expert, insisted Mr Buckler’s primary objective was to reduce cliff erosion.

He said: “The larger and taller trees get, the larger their roots become as they take over a structural supporting role.

“Larger supporting roots remain all year round and increase in size with annual growth rings as does the rest of the tree.

“The swelling of larger structural roots can be a factor in destabilising the cliff soil structure.

“Larger trees are exposed to stronger wind forces, which are dissipated through their root systems. This movement can lead to soil movement.”

Nick Squirrell, a conservation and senior planning adviser for Natural England, said: “The householder owns a part of Poole Bay Cliffs SSSI, which is of national importance for its geology, as well as sand lizards which are specially protected.

“He applied for a consent to cut down the mature non-native pines on the cliff slope. These pines are undesirable in the SSSI for a number of reasons.

“Firstly they are shading the habitat which might otherwise be used by sand lizards. Secondly, they are obscuring the geological features. In addition, they are large trees which were at risk of falling over down the cliff on to a public promenade and beach huts below.

“For all of these reasons, we were able to give consent to the householder to fell the trees.”

The 1.5-acre plot of cliff-top land originally housed a tired bungalow on the site but it was demolished when Mr Buckler bought the property. He won planning permission to build a detached four bedroom house with a separate swimming pool annex.

Mr Buckler has been approached for comment.