Council officials have been accused of ‘butchering’ more than 50 trees that line a smart residential street.
Lime trees along Charminster Avenue in Bournemouth, Dorset had their tops hacked off without notice and locals are ‘devastated’ by its appearance and impact on wildlife.
A small team of arboriculturalists in harnesses spent several days sawing off the tops of the 50ft tall trees.
Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole (BCP) Council say the pollarding work is carried out every five years to ensure the health of the trees and the safety of the public.
But one local resident said they have never known the specimens to be pruned back so harshly.
Carlie Palmer, who has lived along the road for two years, said it the first time she has seen them cut back to this extent.
She said: ‘I can’t believe the butchery that has happened. I just can’t understand how they get away with it.
‘It’s quite an environmental disaster. They were there for days and have cut back every tree in the avenue.
‘The trees are home to wildlife; we have squirrels, birds and, in the summer, we got lots of beautiful butterflies because of all the vegetation.’
She added: ‘It is an avenue because it is lined with beautiful trees, and now it’s just got stumps.
‘The only thing I care about is that there was a valid reason to do that much harm to those beautiful trees.’
BCP Council said the trees are being pollarded, which involves removing the upper branches of a tree, aiming to promote the growth of a dense head of foliage and branches.
The trees on Charminster Avenue have been growing there for more than 50 years.
They are likely to have gone into the pollard regime 15 to 20 years after planting and are re-pollarded every five to six years.
BCP Council said: ‘It is a process that once begun has to continue for the remainder of the trees’ lives for the tree’s health and safety of the public.’
The trees along Charminster Avenue are protected by Tree Preservation Orders, meaning they can not be cut down, willfully damaged or destroyed.