A COUNCILLOR has spoken of his sadness to see a swathe of trees chopped down in a wood near Ropley.

Cllr Charles Louisson represents Ropley, Hawkley & Hangers on East Hampshire District Council where the woodland was cut down earlier this month, as reported in the Chronicle last week.

The Forestry Commission is investigating whether any law has been broken at New Copse on the A32 at Monkwood.

The felling has upset many local people with one saying that when she challenged the fellers and asked them for their licence she was threatened with the words as the man brandished a chainsaw: “This is my licence.”

Cllr Louisson said: “I’m certainly not happy about it. Devastated would be a good word.

“Unfortunately as far as East Hampshire District Council are concerned no tree protection orders are in place so the council can’t do anything directly which is why this has been elevated to the Forestry Commission.”

Cllr Louisson said it was important that if anyone fears for the future of trees in their locality that they contact their local authority’s tree officers to raise their concerns.

He added: “I would like to see replanting. The Forestry Commission have the option of prosecuting or getting the landowner to replant.”

Parts of the felled woodland at New Copse are designated as ‘ancient woodland’ which means they have been largely untouched for around 400 years.

The land was recently purchased and neighbours fear it has been cleared to allow an expansion of a caravan site that may be used by Travellers.

That system has been abused in Winchester where householders in Compton who had no intention of felling trees suddenly found TPOs imposed on their garden.