'Regrettable' damage to Leighton Buzzard town centre trees by contractor meant they had to be cut down due to safety concerns

Residents have been crying out for answers after it was spotted that the two silver birch trees in Leighton Buzzard High Street were cut down during nesting season.

By Joanna Gravett
Saturday, 17th April 2021, 12:13 am
Updated Saturday, 17th April 2021, 12:16 am

The RSPB recommends not cutting down hedges and trees between March and August, as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds, while many residents are worried that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 has been broken (although the town council points out this is not the case).

The act offers protection to birds, their nests and eggs, and campaigners took to social media in protest after they discovered the trees had been removed.

Bedfordshire Wildlife posted on Facebook: "So just four days after we successfully campaigned to NatWest to remove the dangerous bird netting at the bank on Leighton Buzzard High Street, we woke this morning to find that Leighton-Linslade Town Council Official and Central Bedfordshire Council have cut down two silver birch trees just metres from the building we were monitoring.

The silver birch trees have now gone. Photos: Bedfordshire Wildlife.

"As part of our monitoring of wildlife in the High Street, we were aware of a nest in one of these trees."

Meanwhile, Hertfordshire Hunt Saboteurs Tweeted: "@LLTCNews have been chopping down trees with nests and nesting birds in. This is in contravention of The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. This is a wildlife crime."

The LBO made some enquiries and understands that the roots of the silver birch trees were damaged while contractors were installing architectural lighting.

The newspaper contacted Leighton-Linslade Town Council for a comment.

A town council spokeswoman told the LBO: "The decision to remove the trees was made by CBC who deemed that too much damage had been done to them when lighting enhancement project work was undertaken by a LLTC contractor. CBC’s view was that the level of danger was significant enough to require their removal.

"On that basis, public safety supersedes the Act being quoted here. It is undoubtedly regrettable and we appreciate the concerns raised. All parties have subsequently met to discuss completion of the project. The aim is to plant replacement trees as soon as possible and provide additional care over the coming months to ensure they flourish."

Leighton-Linslade and Central Bedfordshire Councillor, Victoria Harvey, told the LBO: "It was a terrible disaster, however, I and some councillors are working very hard to use this opportunity to lobby for more trees in the high street. As the outcry has shown that residents really value trees in their high street and a survey last year showed that people wanted more greenery in the high street."

There have also been reports of other trees in the town that have already been cut down during nesting season. Did this happen in your street? Had you seen birds nesting there? Email: [email protected] and we will investigate.