Outrage as hundreds of trees chopped down 'without warning' during COP26 climate conference week

People in Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham have said they are outraged after hundreds of pine trees have been chopped down at a popular woodland.

Locals said they were not told in advance and suspect the trees were chopped down to raise money.

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust (SCCT) which runs Manorial Woods in Worcester Lane said it was part of ongoing management to reduce the risk of fires and improve safety.

The wooded area, also known as Dead Man’s Wood, was located at the junction of Worcester Lane and Hillwood Road on the Sutton boundary but now hundreds of trees have gone.

A perimeter of trees marking the outer edge of the woods is now all that remains after the felling.

'It's too late to turn anything back', says local resident Juliette Newton

Juliette Newton, who lives in the area, said she hopes the area is developed into a natural reserve for future generations.

She said: "I was very upset to discover that the woods had been cut down.

"It's too late to turn anything back, but we've got a unique opportunity now that the Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust can give something back to the people of Sutton Coldfield and develop this with the interest of the local residents as a nature reserve to preserve this area for future generations for decades to come."

The residents said they believe the woods were felled on Tuesday November 2 with little warning – despite the charitable trust claiming a ‘public consultation’ took place.

'It is a shame that during COP26 when the world is coming together to address climate change that all these trees had to go in one job lot'

Sutton Roughley councillor, Ewan Mackey, said residents were left in disbelief the established woods had been decimated, particularly in the week of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The woods were mainly made up Corsican pine trees according to SCCT and Cllr Mackey said they were felled in ‘one job lot’ as a ‘cash crop’ after the trust obtained a logging licence.

Cllr Mackey claimed wildlife habitats amongst the trees had also been destroyed and he raised concerns over whether the tree clearance was a precursor to the land being used for housing.

Cllr Mackey said: “Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust have felled all the trees in Manorial or Dead Man’s Wood and a number of residents are very, very upset about this.

"I understand there were buzzards nesting in the trees and all sorts of habitats around the trees.

"I understand the Forestry Commission conducted some kind of public consultation but I haven’t met anyone who saw that and there were no legal obstacles to knocking this down."

He added: "But it’s still very upsetting and very worrying. Especially as many people liked walking in these woods and I suspect this will result in the loss of habitat for quite a number of small animals."

"It is a shame that during COP26 when the world is coming together to address climate change that all these trees had to go in one job lot. It would have seemed far better to take it down in smaller sections.”

A graphic on the Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust website outlining the 'Manorial Woods harvesting operations'

In a statement on its website, SCCT said: "Having obtained specialist advice, the decision was taken by the trustees of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust to harvest the current crop of pine trees as part of the ongoing management of their land holdings and replace them with broadleaved deciduous trees.

"Four weeks’ public consultation took place ahead of the felling licence being granted.

"Over recent years there have been a number of issues with localised fires and fly tipping."

It added: "The trustees were advised that the current crop of Corsican Pine has reached its full potential and will go into decline in the future causing potential increased safety issues.

"It will become a greater fire hazard due to the lack of understory, vegetation and plants that normally grow under the canopy of woodland or forest. The woodland, as it exists, provides little or no benefit to wildlife.

"The harvesting operation will be targeting the planted crop of Corsican pine and dangerous roadside trees.

"The site will be restocked with predominantly UK grown hardwoods - broadleaved trees - with an intimate mix of conifers to aid the establishment of the crop."