Campaigners 'furious' as ancient Wiltshire woods face the chop

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Campaigners who helped a council buy a woodland say they are furious the authority wants to start cutting down trees.

Bradford-on-Avon town council says 150 trees in the Becky Addy Wood have Ash dieback and are a risk to walkers. But a campaign group says the survey is wrong and trees can survive the disease.

The woods in Wiltshire were bought by the council - helped by the community - two years ago.

But some of the same campaigners say the council's response is over-the-top and would threaten the natural habitat.

Campaigners in Becky Addy Wood Credit: ITV West Country

James Crawford, the parish Tree Warden, said: "The risk assessment carried out on the trees didn't take into account they still have a lot of vigour. It was improbable that they would kill people."

Chris Humphries of 'Friends of Becky Addy Wood' group said the chainsaws would impact the wildlife.

He added: "We're talking about rare songbirds like the marsh tit. There's a marsh tit nest on one of the condemned trees, if the tree goes, the marsh tit goes.

"There are song thrushes, there are woodpeckers, there are tawny owls."

Mr Humphries said the wood was home to the rare Bechstein's bat - "this is particularly sensitive to woodland clearance. If these trees are felled that bat could become extinct locally.

"That would be an absolute tragedy."

Bradford on Avon Council fears trees may fall on walkers Credit: ITV West Country

The council says not all the 152 trees with Ash dieback in the wood will be felled.

Councillor Alex Kay, from Bradford-on-Avon town council, said: "The plan would be to go through and do tree work as needed that are marked dangerous.

"The arborist would be working with an ecologist, they'll be there every step of the way to see if there's any way (of saving it).

"This is a pretty fantastic way to be doing this. It's not like there's a big chainsaw going through,' said Cllr Alex Kay of Bradford on Avon Town Council.

She added that there would be replanting with new tree species to make the wood more diverse.