Tree surgeons were forced to cease work yesterday over concern about potentially unlawful tree felling.

Royal Wootton Bassett locals took to the street in protest on Monday morning after Sainsburys contractors began cutting down trees in Borough Fields car park.

Three police cars arrived after people with banners took over the car park opposite Sainsbury's. The tree surgeons were forced to stop work due to incorrect paperwork, claimed an eye-witness.

“The approval for work to be undertaken on some decaying trees within Borough Fields was approved on 8 August 2023,” explained Coun David Bowler.

“But the four alder trees being cut down on August 14 were not included in the original planning application.”

Today, the felling team have returned with a five-day notice submission to finish what they started.

“We recently discovered that four trees at our Wootton Basset store were causing cracking and movement in the retaining boundary wall of our car park. Unfortunately we concluded that our only option was to remove the trees,” said a spokesperson for Sainsburys.

“The decision to cut down trees on our sites is always a last resort and never taken lightly. We will be replanting four fast-growing birch trees to replace the ones that have been removed,” Sainsburys added.

Residents of the town are continuing to dispute this, stating that the trees looked perfectly healthy and were doing no damage to the wall.

“I’m a local ecologist and I parked here the other day. The trees in front of my car were in good health,” said Caitlin Woodfield.

“There was also at least one active nest in one tree, so any measures to remove this tree and disturb the nest at this time would be unlawful,” she claimed.

“I know there are concerns and I appreciate that at some point they would need removing and replacing," added Coun Bowler.

"But I believe that these trees should have been included in the original planning application that would have allowed consultation. The situation has not been made clear to residents."

The decision to cut down these trees has come as a surprise to many residents, as Royal Wootton Bassett Council approved the continuation of a tree planting programme in March to improve tree coverage.

“I’m so fed up of mature trees being chopped down. We need to be doing our bit for the climate crisis and that means more trees not less,” said Ann Howells who attended the protest yesterday.

All four alder trees have now been cut down, but Wootton Bassett locals and councillors say they feel betrayed by the lack of public consultation.

"The four Alders have the potential to grow to over 25 metres/82 feet in height and are the wrong species for this location. As such a 5 Day Notice was issued," said Wiltshire Council.