FISHERS in Pewsey woke up to a shock, finding contractors cutting down trees and stripping back wildlife along the canal in Pewsey.

The contractors, arranged by the Canal and River Trust, cut trees up to 12 feet high back despite protests from the Pewsey District Angling Association who were on the banks by Milkhouse Water, where the work was taking place.

Leo Pocock, chairman of the Pewsey district Angling Association, said: “They were decimating the fishing habitat, if they keep destroying the trees and habitat the fishes simply won’t remain here.

“We pay an annual fee to fish here to the Canal and River Trust and what has annoyed us most about this is that we weren’t consulted about this work at all.

“It is looking like it will take place for the majority of the day. This is our worst nightmare. I just don’t see the point in what they did.”

The Canal and River Trust carried out the work last week as part of a programme of winter maintenance along the waterways.

Sarah Rudy, of The Canal and River Trust, said:“We do this type of maintenance this time of year as it is outside the bird nesting season. We are aware that cutting back trees has some impact on fish and fish fry which is why we aren’t cutting back the trees everywhere – only in places that restrict safe navigation for boaters."

The Canal River Trust confirmed that contractors were informed to leave trees overhanging into the water in order to ensure that fish still had areas in the canal to hide from predators.

However, Mr Pocock says he has already noticed a fall in the number of kingfishers to the area which he believes is due to the lack of low hanging trees near the river. He has called for the work to end in a bid to ensure that no more habitats are affected.