Residents have been left ‘up in arms’ and ‘heartbroken’ at the decision to cut down dozens of trees during bird nesting season in Balls Cross.
The Leconfield Estates put up a notice in the Stag Inn outlining plans to remove the trees due to ash dieback and safety on the roads.
However, residents have argued that most of the trees are a long way from the road and that the work should have started after the conclusion of bird nesting season in August, to protect rare species of birds and bats in the Ebernoe area.
Mick Ward, who has worked as an arborist for 20 years, said: “It is a controversial issue. Many of the locals are upset.
“Leconfield Estate is carrying out a safety operation to remove the trees.
“It is a very well known nature reserve and many people choose to live here for that reason.
“They may have been in their legal rights to cut them down but they could have waited a few more weeks. Nesting season is from February to August.
“There does not seem to be an imminent harm to road users. We would not want anybody getting hurt on the road but this is a really valuable habitat."
Mick said the trees outside the Stag Inn have been ‘annihilated’.
“It looks like ground zero,” he added.
Biologist and Ebernoe parish councillor Ian Parkinson also shared his frustration at the ongoing works.
He commented: “The felling of all the trees is a rather brutal thing to do, especially at this time of year.
“There are a lot of birds in the process of finishing nesting. It is a nature reserve renowned for bats and birds.”
Another concerned resident and local businesswoman, who asked not to be named, said she was ‘furious’.
She added: “It is absolutely heartbreaking. The whole village is up in arms. Why couldn’t they wait four weeks? They have annihilated the habitat of endangered species.
“It is full of nightingales, bull finches and a host of other species.
“It is indiscriminate and really it beggars belief. It is destruction on a huge scale.”
The Leconfield Estates explained the decision to cut down the trees in Balls Cross.
Head forester Neil Humphris said: “Ash trees throughout the country are in decline and dying from Chalara ash dieback, which causes dieback of the tree crown and in most cases leads to the death of the tree and in conjunction with other fungal attacks, such as honey fungus, can cause the trees to decay and fall over.
"The degree and speed of effect varies from tree to tree but the best information we have at present, is that about 95 per cent of the ash will die and even those that show tolerance to the disease will not be completely unaffected.
"The ash around Balls Cross and indeed the wider area, have been declining for the last three years and are becoming a major concern for owners of these trees, especially where they are adjoining a road or property, where public safety and inconvenience are likely to become a major issue.
“The Leconfield Estates and many other local landowners are therefore taking a proactive approach and felling most roadside ash trees. Trees are inspected and marked and checks are made for bird and bat roosts and information passed to woodmen prior to felling.”
Mr Humphris added that the road had not been closed and the impact of the work would settle down allowing vegetation and flowers to grow and butterflies, birds and other wildlife to thrive.
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