WOODLAND charity Avon Needs Trees has been forced to pull out of a deal to buy 19 acres of land at Seend on which it hoped to plant trees.

The Bristol-based charity will not be going ahead with the purchase because a magnetometry scan by archaeologists has revealed potential for buried heritage at the site, possibly of Roman or Medieval origin.

Nikki Jones, chairwoman of Avon Needs Trees, said: “We’re extremely disappointed, and we know that many locals in Seend are too.

“The magnetometry scan was requested by Wiltshire Archaeology Department as part of our application for a change of land use.

"Nobody expected us to ‘hit the jackpot’ but the scan came back with a large number of anomalies that may, or may not, be of archaeological interest.”

Avon Needs Trees had raised £175,000 for the initial purchase of 19 acres and planned to turn it into a mixture of woodland, orchard, wildlife ponds and meadow.

The problem for Avon Needs Trees is that £25,000 of trench digging is required before permission to plant trees could be granted.

The trench work can’t be done until ANT owns the land, and depending on what is found during this initial work, ANT might be required to do more, expensive archaeological work and may well be restricted in how much tree planting that can be done.

After a month of further investigations and talks with a wide range of experts, Avon Needs Trees' trustees have made the difficult decision to not proceed with the purchase.

“We’re now looking for other sections of land to buy, and hope that we can find something in the area of Melksham,” Ms Jones said.

“ANT’s aim is to create new, permanent woodland, to lock up carbon, improve biodiversity, provide natural flood management and public amenity space.

"We’d be really interested to hear from anyone who has suggestions of land that might be suitable for us.”