DOZENS of ash trees at Bradford-on-Avon’s Becky Addy Wood are facing the chop.

The 140 trees are due to be taken down over fears walkers could be injured by falling branches.

Although Wiltshire residents have expressed concerns that the town council is to fell the trees at the 1,200-year-old wood in order to pre-empt ash dieback, the council says that it has no choice in the matter.

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Bradford-on-Avon town clerk Sandra Bartlett said that the council had taken expert advice before deciding to fell the trees.

“We have had an expert on the trees give a report to our green spaces officer, that has been considered and the fact is that we don’t have a choice in the matter because we have to meet the conditions of our risk assessments,” she said.

“We can’t have dead trees falling on people. I know that some people wanted the trees left in situ in the hope that they might grow back but we have to manage the wood and we have responsibilities. People walk in the wood and we cannot afford the possibility of them being harmed.

“But we will leave a stump in the hope that they may grow back.”

Becky Addy Wood was sold last year for £45,000 to locals determined to see it used as a nature reserve to enhance the community.

The 10.6 acres of woodland runs along the side of the Avon valley on the Westwood bank, above the river and canal before Avoncliff.

The town council contributed £9,605 to the purchase and the Friends of Becky Addy Wood providing £30,000 raised in donations.

At the time of agreeing to purchase the wood on behalf of the community, the council said: “It is home to many ancient and native species of trees and rare flora, as well as blankets of wild garlic and bluebells. It provides vital natural habitat for protected local wildlife, including bats.”

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The first recorded mention of the woodland is as far back as the 10th century – when it was offered as reward to Leofwine, a huntsman of Anglo-Saxon King Æthelred II. 

However, the town council is working to plant more trees in the town. In September it announced that it had worked with Wiltshire Council to secure a £96,000 grant from the Forestry Commission’s Local Authorities Treescape Fund to plant around 3,000 trees and hedgerow trees over the next two years.

The funding will pay for 107 standard trees, 40 feathers (young trees ) and 3,185 shoots.