NATURE lovers are outraged after the council cut the grass “too early” at a much loved nature reserve.

They say it has wiped out 30 years’ work at Seven Fields at Penhill - and will take two years to return it to its previous state.

Marilyn Beale, founder and secretary of the Seven Fields Conservation Group, said: “I am dumbfounded that this has happened. It will take a couple of years to get this place back to how it was – everyone’s hard work has been undone by a single action.

“It would have been a beautiful scene right now with all of the flowers and plants.”

Mrs Beale said Swindon Borough Council cuts the grass as part of an “essential management plan” which was drawn up in 2004.

She said it was essential that the grass is cut at the right time of year - ideally between August and September.

“By cutting it early disrupts the environment around it,” Mrs Beale said. “This has led to flowers not being able to bloom or reseed, and insects’ habitats have been affected as they have not been able to lay eggs.”

She added: “Even if they could they wouldn’t fix this problem and now it is too late.”

The management plan is supported by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, English Nature, the Countryside Agency and Great Western Community Forest.

And scientists at the British Ecological Society have an interest in the site because of rare species such as the sawfly, as well as rare trees and plants.

Bill King, another founding member of Seven Fields Conservation Group said: “Swindon Borough Council don’t adhere to the management plan.

“For many people this is an asset for the community and it has been ruined.

“This issue is because of the lack of resource they have given for this and now the problem has got worse.”

The council agreed to the essential management plan, which was set up with the conservation group to make sure the landscape is maintained.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “Unfortunately this is one of those occasions where we have to hold our hands up because clearly the grass at the nature reserve should not have been cut this early in the season.

“While it will be of little consolation to the volunteers and the local community, we will ensure this does not happen again in the future.”

It will take two years for Seven Fields to go back to its flourishing flora nature exhibit after the council diminished 30 years’ worth of work by cutting the grass too early.