A council has defended its decision to fell 250 trees, saying they were “dead, dying or a health and safety risk”.
Environment campaigners in St Albans, Hertfordshire, have disputed the number and said as many trees as possible should be preserved.
Green councillor Simon Grover said a “tree management strategy fit for the era of the climate crisis” was needed.
The local authority said the number recommended for removal was less than 1% of its 30,000 highway trees.
The authority said it managed the trees on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), did three-yearly tree safety surveys and followed up safety-related recommendations.
“All of the work that is being carried out is done to ensure that HCC meets its statutory duty and fulfils its tree strategy objectives,” a spokesman said.
“Approximately 250 trees were recommended for removal, because they were dead, dying, diseased, had suffered significant damage or were a health and safety risk.”
Mr Grover said the council’s “thinking is wrong on so many levels”.
“The lack of engagement with residents. Felling during the nesting season. A failure to reconsider policies as the climate heats and new saplings struggle to survive,” he said.
“They need a proper tree management strategy fit for the era of the climate crisis.”
Nigel Harvey, from campaign group Extinction Rebellion in St Albans, said it was “outrageous” that the council was doing this during the nesting season and that while some trees did need to come down, “most are rock steady”.
Amanda Yorwerth, from Friends of the Earth, added: “Mature trees take decades to grow back and so, we think, existing trees should be retained unless unsafe”.
The council said contractors would do a site specific wildlife assessment to ensure nesting birds were not disturbed.
“Residents are made aware of tree works by signs affixed to the trees and the information is also listed on our website,” a statement said.
“As part of our commitment to tackle climate change, every effort is made to preserve our existing tree stock and, where possible, we avoid removing trees.
“In common with other local authorities, this work is all part of a normal maintenance programme that is sensitive to, and takes into consideration, wildlife needs, trees’ safety and public safety.”
It added that trees would be replaced and that, subject to funding in the 2023-24 planting season, it was planning to give away 6,000 to 7,000 trees to residents and community groups, and plant a further 3,000 trees on its own open spaces.
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