Based in Kirbymoorside, Faccombe Estates was fined £7,500 this week, as well as an additional £6,787 in costs, after pleading guilty to causing damage to part of the largest tract of heather moorland in England.

The company admitted to constructing a three-metre wide stone track that smothered 1,800 square metres of healthy moorland within a North York Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Moreover, the site is an area of European importance that supports endangered bird species such as merlin and the golden plover.

Magistrates also imposed a restoration order on Faccombe Estates to make sure that they restore the damage they caused to English Nature’s satisfaction.

Director of protected sites at English Nature, Dr Andy Clements, said that managing and protecting SSSIs had to be a shared responsibility, and failure to do so would be to the detriment of future generations.

“The company already had permission to maintain existing tracks but instead it went ahead and created a new hard-surfaced track that resulted in an area of important wildlife habitat being lost,” Dr Clements explained.

“Land owners and occupiers of land designated as a SSSI have a legal responsibility to consult English Nature about operations that may damage the wildlife interests of a site – in this case, Faccombe Estates failed to do so.”

Areas listed as SSSIs are notified and afforded protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

By Jane Kettle

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