UPSET residents in Llanfoist have been appalled by a ‘rape of the fair country’ rampage by tree fellers outside their homes reports PAUL JAMES.

A string of beautifully mature poplars have been chopped down because they poise a hazard to the new-build properties which have sprung up around them.

The piecemeal destruction of the green landscape has been dubbed unnecessary by some locals who fear more trees will soon hit the deck.

Delia Rodriguez, who lives near the centre of the county council-led destruction in Riverside Drive, fears many more trees in the neighbourhood may suffer the same fate.

“My worry is that I will come home one day and find we have none left. What’s happening is just heart-breaking,” she complained.

She argued there was no justification for removing the trees which posed no hazard at all until the properties were built next to them.

“The trees were there first. They should stay,” she insisted.

Tim Bradfield, Monmouthshire County Council’s Commercial and Green Spaces Manager, said on Tuesday, “The council engaged an external contractor to fell 14 mature poplars adjacent to Riverside Drive in Llanfoist after inspection by a tree surgeon revealed severe basal decay in 11 trees.”

He added, “This inspection - commissioned after a diseased poplar had fallen in high winds – indicated that the trees posed an unacceptable risk to nearby properties.

“The trees were assessed for potential bat habitat - and recorded as low potential. They were also checked by the contractor for nesting birds before work started.

“It was agreed to fell the remaining three trees for reasons of safety as they would be exposed to unaccustomed wind speeds and pressure.”

But all was not lost, he insisted.

“Following discussions with Natural Resources Wales’ Woodland Regulatory Officer, the council will initiate a replanting scheme using suitable mixed species,” he revealed.

Another angry resident told the Chronicle, “I’ve lost count of the number of trees that have been chopped down around here. It’s such a tragic waste.

“There is nothing eco-friendly about this systematic vandalism sanctioned by the local authority. They should know better. It’s disgusting.”

Delia Rodriguez chipped in, “There seems to be an agenda here. I’m minded to chain myself to a tree to stop it continuing.”

Town councillor Martin Hickman, who represents the Llanfoist ward, said, “It’s all been above board. Nothing is being taken down which shouldn’t be.

“Obviously a few people will be disgruntled because it is sad to see any tree removed. These decisions are not taken lightly.”

•The vanishing trees at Llanfoist