A PAINTBALL centre is facing enforcement action over “harmful development” on irreplaceable ancient woodland.

Skirmish Paintball, based in Skirmish Wood, Billericay, must comply with three enforcement notices from Basildon Council after the damaging development was flagged up by the Billericay District Residents Association.

The notices relate to the laying of hard-core and the creation of a hardstanding, the illegal storage of shipping containers and the illegal storage of caravans for residential use on green belt land.

Firm bosses have firmly denied being responsible for the “harm”.

Alisdair Daw, 45, of the residents’ association, said: “A lot of people go walking in the wood, which is a designated local wildlife site and ancient woodland and about two years ago people noted heavy traffic and lots of activity in the area.”

Mr Daw, who has lived in Billericay for 19 years, said the land, near Outwood Farm Road, had been soiled with large piles of rubble.

He added: “It covers a really large area and has destroyed irreplaceable ancient woodland. We campaigned to stop it because it could have just kept happening so we wanted to get the council to do everything in their power to prevent further damage being done.”

In the notices, council officers have said the harm caused by the development is “serious and ongoing” and has had a “negative impact on the character of the land”.

The landowners have been given three months to restore the land to its original state.

Andrew Schrader, councillor for Billericay East, said: “We cannot let people think they can get away with doing whatever they want because they’re out of sight, out of mind.

“People did notice and action has been taken. This was a great example of residents and councillors working together.”

Jim Sidroy, owner of Skirmish Paintballing, denied being responsible for the illegal development but said the company had taken steps to mitigate the damage.

He added: “Full time security is in operation now therefore no further tipping has taken place.

“Tonnes of rubble has been removed from site which is now tidy.

“We have run paintball here for 30 years and have a great respect for the biodiversity and wildlife of our land.

“We will continue to make the greatest efforts to mitigate the effect of the illegal dumping and work with the authorities.”