WORK has begun at a new housing development in York, causing upset among nature campaigners.

Tree felling has begun at Our Lady’s in Hob Moor, where plans for a 55-home development were agreed by City of York Council in December.

Sue Wherrett, of Ascot Way, is a member of the Friends of Hob Moor Nature Reserve, and said the removal of the trees was too soon, claiming it could damage the local ecosystem.

She said: “This will be the death of the moor and the Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s total environmental destruction.

“They are felling trees which have nesting birds in them. There are about 30 trees on that site and we have fought it all the way and it looks like the development is going to go ahead, but there’s no need to fell those trees. Any change in the hydrology and they aren’t just going to destroy the nature reserve, but also the SSSI.”

A spokeswoman for developers Yorkshire Housing said: “On May 19 we started to remove some trees from the site, as per approved plans. The tree felling is due to be complete by May 30 and is part of our work to prepare the site for the start of construction work later in the year.

“Southdale Construction Ltd has submitted a tree protection report to the council. This shows which trees will be retained and how they will be protected during construction work. We also plan to plant more trees on the site after the homes have been built.”

The spokeswoman said drainage works were in the process of being approved by the council and Yorkshire Water. A bird nesting survey was also carried out last week, which concluded there were no nesting birds in trees planned to be felled, “except in some conifers along the boundary opposite the existing school building”.

The spokeswoman said: “These conifers will not be removed until the nesting season has ended, and we have had the all clear by our environmental consultants.”

Mike Slater, assistant director of city and environmental services at the council said: “None of the trees involved are subject to a Tree Preservation Order and therefore no consent was required.

“The applicant has submitted details of trees to be retained and how those trees are to be protected, along with a detailed landscape scheme indicating significant new planting. This is in the process of being approved.”