WORK TO pave the way for the mining of 900,000 tonnes of coal in the shadow of The Wrekin has "devastated" the beauty spot in just a matter of days, it was claimed today.
This photograph, taken from the summit of The Wrekin, shows just how much land at Huntington Lane, Little Wenlock, has already been dug over, claims the campaign group All Friends Around the Wrekin.
Group secretary Steve Turvey was out walking on The Wrekin on Saturday when he took the photo, which he says showed how the view from the mount had been "desecrated" since clearing work began last Wednesday.
He said: "The photo shows what devastation has been caused in just four days' work by UK coal. One of the key views from the Wrekin is fast disappearing.
"The travesty of the public inquiry is now unfolding and, talking to visitors to The Wrekin on Saturday afternoon. people were shocked by this sight."
He added: "It is unlikely we can now prevent this destruction."
UK Coal spokesman Stuart Oliver today said Mr Turvey's comments were to be expected from someone whose heart was so committed to The Wrekin.
"Our objective is to be a good neighbour and to work with the community and restore this site to tip top condition once we have extracted the energy resource," he added.
The firm, which won permission to mine the area after a public inquiry, began securing the southernmost part and clearing topsoil on Wednesday, which included dismantling two treehouses put up by protesters.
The treehouses, on Site A at Huntington Lane, were empty at the time but workers cut branches to ensure they could not be rebuilt and protesters were warned they faced arrest if they trespassed on the land.
A spokesman for the protesters today said: "Police officers and members of the National Eviction Team arrived on Site A to find the treehouses sadly unoccupied.
"The treehouses have now been removed and branches lopped off the trees so they can't go back up.
"Protesters have been threatened with arrest should they trespass upon Site A. An eviction notice is yet to be served but this chain of events would appear to suggest its imminent arrival."
The protesters are now camped out in a corridor between Sites A and B and they said today their fight against the mining operations was "only just beginning".
One said: "We are a peaceful protest but we are going to put our bodies in the way and make things as awkward as possible for UK Coal."
By Simon Hardy