A controversial tree felling project has been postponed indefinitely, amid fears red squirrels in the area could be shredded by harvesting machines.
Natural Resources Wales granted Tilhill Forestry a felling licence for a woodland near Mynydd Bodafon, Anglesey , despite a number of sightings of the protected species in the vicinity.
Dr Craig Shuttleworth, an international squirrel expert at Bangor University, claims that he also sent a licence return to the NRW, dated May 2017, which established more than 60 instances of red squirrels in the woodlands.
This week, members for the Red Squirrels Trust captured shocking video footage at the woodlands, clearly showing red squirrels on the site, despite ecologists previously claiming to have not seen signs of the animals during their checks.
However Tilhill Forestry have now stopped “all harvesting works” at the site amid growing squirrel welfare concerns.
A spokesman said: “In response to concerns regarding the integrity of the red squirrel population in Mynydd Bodafon and our harvesting activities, Tilhill Forestry can confirm that they have today taken an independent decision to stop all harvesting works for the foreseeable future and until certainty can be gained that no red squirrel breeding is taking place or is likely to take place in the area.
“We wish to advise that Forwarder machinery will still be working at the site over the next few days in order to clear the works already completed but the felling of trees has stopped as of today
Dr Craig Shuttleworth said he is “pleased” that “common sense” has prevailed while still raising concerns over why the licence was granted.
“I’m pleased. It’s common sense and I hope there’s a way forward from this so that we never find ourselves in a similar position in the future.
“We should have never got to this position in the first place. The licensing process should have picked this up.
“One thing that has been nice about this is that the local community were the ones that raised concerns. We’ve empowered the local community on Anglesey with the knowledge of red squirrel presence and breeding, and now they’re watching out, which is great.”
NRW had previously defended their decision to grant the felling licence, with the Operations Manager, Ben Wilson, last week suggesting that there was “no evidence” of red squirrels in the woodlands.
He said: “In April we issued a licence to a private landowner to fell an area of woodland in Mynydd Bodafon, Anglesey. We visited the site with the landowner, cross-referenced our own records and found no evidence of red squirrels on the proposed felling area.
“It’s really important that people, or organisations with information about red squirrel populations report it to their local environmental record centres so we can make informed decisions.
“We are investigating a complaint about this licence and are unable to comment further whilst this is ongoing.”