The Tesco Chainsaw Massacre; ... or How Sir Terry Leahy Has Enraged Ecologists over Eight Felled Pine Trees on Thai Island

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 20, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Tesco Chainsaw Massacre; ... or How Sir Terry Leahy Has Enraged Ecologists over Eight Felled Pine Trees on Thai Island


Byline: Miles Goslett

THE chief executive of Tesco is at the centre of a row over claims that a multimillion-pound luxury property development which he is co-funding has broken environmental laws.

Sir Terry Leahy has invested millions of pounds in West Sands, a residential resort being built on the island of Phuket, Thailand. But contractors are being accused of illegally felling eight pine trees to improve sea views for some new properties.

Protesters from the nearby village of Mai Khao have set up a manned 24-hour blockade for works vehicles to draw attention to what they say is a breach of the country's ecology laws.

According to the villagers, the trees were 100 years old and on land protected under the jurisdiction of Sirinath National Park, an oasis where giant marine turtles lay their eggs. Under Thai law, this should have guaranteed their preservation, they claim.

It has also been suggested that the trees, which were cut down with chainsaws this month, were destroyed because they shed needles which would have fallen into a swimming pool under construction.

Phuket's governor, Wichai Praisangob, said the matter would be investigated, with those responsible for any breaches of the law facing prosecution.

Phuket attracts about five million tourists each year and is popular with celebrities such as the supermodel Kate Moss.

Sir Terry, whose pay and perks package from Tesco was [pounds sterling]5.1 million last year, bought the 48-acre site with his business partner Paul Mercer in 2006. It boasts a 500-yard beachfront area.

The development, which will have 426 properties costing up to [pounds sterling]1 million each, is being marketed to China's increasingly wealthy tycoons. …

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