Surely if that were the case, a mistake by another party, given the landownder (old or new, whichever) was named and shamed (OK, briefly) in the local papers, etc, you'd think they would want to speak out to clear their name? Unless any legal action prevents that?
I was in the area a few weeks back, I grew up close by and was back visiting the folks - I didn't stop to look any of the times I passed that week as frankly I was afraid of what I might see :-(
No doubt it will all come to light eventually but I have this feeling in my water that a huge mistake has taken place and it wasn't done maliciously or with any wrongful intent. That said, what a diabollically stupid thing to do! Nothing will correct it of course but I think it was Nigel that said that the landowner/contractor should be made to 'reinstate' it at the very least. What else they decide to do is up in the air I suppose.