Residents have reacted angrily after a site where proposals for more than 80 new homes are being considered was cleared with a digger.
Work on the land in Hindley Green where Persimmon Homes wants to build sparked a strong reaction with concerns about the loss of wildlife habitat during the bird nesting and breeding season.
Wiganers living near the site between Alder Lane and Green Lane say a JCB turned up last week and cut down trees on the land and flattened out much of the site.
Wigan Council said it did not think Persimmon had done anything untoward but told residents that possible infringements of wildlife laws were matters for the police.
Joe Benyon, whose parents live on Green Lane, said: “There were a lot of trees and undergrowth on the site used particularly by birds, and the JCB just turned up and starting levelling it
“It was a shock to a lot of people because it’s right outside their back gardens.
“It was fenced off and left to its own devices and has been like that for around 30 years.
“I didn’t think they were supposed to do anything like this during nesting season and I don’t think proper wildlife surveys were done.
“Residents can look out of their homes and see the animals and hear pheasants.
“A lot of residents in the area are older and have been there many years and everybody is just a bit frustrated because it is causing a lot of stress.”
Persimmon Homes and Foden Invest have applied to build 88 houses on the site as well as a landscaped acoustic mound and access.
Originally considered in 2014, fresh consultations on the scheme were sent out at the start of this year and a decision has been delegated to council officers.
Marie Bintley, assistant director of growth and housing at Wigan Council, said: “The planning application for the Hindley Green site is currently being reviewed and a decision about the development has not yet been made.
“The landowner does not need permission to carry out general clearance work and as the trees are not covered by a tree preservation order, it is not an offence to cut them down.
“However, we advise residents concerned about bird breeding season to report the matter to the police who have a duty to investigate potential breaches of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.”
Persimmon Homes was approached for a comment but had not responded as the Observer went to press.