PROTECTED trees have been cut down without permission, two years after a council blocked an attempt to fell them.

Trees backing onto multi-million pound property The Curve in Withdean Road, Brighton, were recently chopped down without Brighton and Hove City Council’s say-so.

A city council spokesman said it was “very disappointed” as council officers had stopped an attempt to fell the same trees two years ago.

The incident has been reported to the police, though it is not known who cut down the trees.

Withdean resident Brian Cooper noticed the trees had been axed while walking down the road on Monday evening.

He said it was “despicable” the action had been taken without permission while the city council is occupied with the coronavirus pandemic.

“The council’s trees officer was on site yesterday morning to assess the damage,” he said.

Mr Cooper said the culprit had taken “cynical advantage” of the pandemic to cut the trees down.

Another Withdean resident who did not wish to be named called the person responsible “selfish”.

“While everyone is busy keeping the city functional and safe, these selfish p***** illegally chopped down the trees,” she said.

“So selfish of them and so sad for us and nature. As if the council and police don’t have enough to do at the moment.”

A city council spokesman said it was considering legal action, including criminal proceedings.

“We can confirm that the trees in Withdean Road have been felled without permission,” he said. “This is very disappointing, particularly after our officers stopped the felling in 2018.

“We have reported the matter to the police and are currently investigating.

“We will be considering all options, including criminal and civil proceedings.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said it was investigating how the trees were felled without permission.

“We are working with Brighton and Hove City Council to establish the circumstances of how trees were felled without permission in Withdean Road on Sunday,” he said.

“Anyone with information about the incident is asked to report online or call 101 quoting serial 761 of 07/04.”

Trees protected by tree preservation orders can only be cut down with the city council’s permission.

This story first appeared in the Argus.