RESIDENTS feel ‘abandoned’ after police close investigation into woodland that was destroyed in less than 24 hours.

A multi-agency investigation was launched by Dorset Police after woodland and wildlife were torn down by teams of tree surgeons, leaving residents ‘heartbroken’.

Almost all greenery was removed from the property on Wimborne Road in Corfe Mullen, as contractors worked from 7am until 9pm.

Bournemouth Echo: Aerial shot of the destroyed woodland in Corfe Mullen

One neighbour said the workers did not allow time for wildlife to leave the woodland before placing broken trees in a chipper.

Dorset Police have now confirmed that following the investigation ‘insufficient evidence’ was found of a wildlife crime and no further action will be taken.

READ MORE: Residents 'heartbroken' after woodland destroyed in less than 24 hours

Gerrard Hayes, 83 and a former soldier, said the workers began to cut down one of his trees by mistake and damaged his fence in the process.

Bournemouth Echo: Gerrard Hayes

He said the police did not inform him of the investigation stopping and has been ‘left high and dry’.

“They’ve just abandoned me and abandoned the whole thing,” said Gerrard.

He said one of his 60ft trees now looks ‘lethal’ without support of other woodland and the remainder of his fence has been destroyed by strong winds.

“Unless I personally take out a prosecution against the owners of the land, I’m going nowhere.”

He added: “They’re criminals and they appear to be getting away with it.”

Bournemouth Echo: Gerrard Hayes and Jackie Bonham

Jackie Bonham, 55, who has lived on Wimborne Road for 17 years, is calling for automatic planning refusal and fines for developers who destroy habitat.

“The only way to stop this unethical behaviour from continuing is if developers are not seeing a path to planning consent being granted by clearing sites in order to avoid biodiversity surveys which could identify protected species and curtail building,” said Jackie.

“Destruction of habitat should automatically result in refusal of planning consent as well as fines imposed to mitigate the damage.

“Planting whips does not constitute replacement of a hundred-year-old tree either.

“Developers should be named and shamed for this behaviour and conversely incentivised with a nationally recognised award scheme to deliver projects that are sustainable and work with the natural environment not against it.”

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “A multi-agency investigation was carried out, involving Dorset Police, Natural England, the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Dorset Council and Forestry Commission.

“Extensive enquiries were carried out, which found insufficient evidence a wildlife crime had been committed.

“Therefore, the police investigation into the suspected bat roost has concluded and no further action will be taken.

“An investigation is continuing by the Forestry Commission into the felling of the trees.”