Work to finish A507 project at Ampthill where more than 1,000 trees were felled begins this week

Angry campaigners set up a ‘Stop the tree massacre’ group on social media
After - how the A507 looks like now (Picture: Malcolm Tattersall)After - how the A507 looks like now (Picture: Malcolm Tattersall)
After - how the A507 looks like now (Picture: Malcolm Tattersall)

Angry campaigners set up a ‘Stop the tree massacre’ group on social media to call for an explanation, consider legal options and minimise the environmental damage from the rest of the project.

Central Bedfordshire Council highways department has told residents that it “understands their frustrations” resulting from removal of the trees.

Before - how the A507 used to lookBefore - how the A507 used to look
Before - how the A507 used to look

“We’re looking at potential ecological mitigation works, which are likely to include planting wildflowers within the ditch and planting trees on the verges away from the ditch, if feasible,” the local authority explained.

“Any replanting needs to be appropriate for the location and take into consideration any impact on drainage, the road and ecology.

“Alternative measures will be looked into between Station Road and Wagstaff Way, but this will need to be in collaboration with the owner of the fence and adjacent land.

“Finally, we’re aware the trees have caused damage to the fences, and this will be remedied as part of the overall scheme.”

Contractors for CBC felled several trees planted between the industrial estate and the A507 as screening from noise and air pollution for nearby residents of Ampthill Heights estate.

Their removal exposed “an unsightly, unsafe, graffiti-covered metal fence” to some of these properties.

Residents want new screening and planting, and say the trees were planted by developers more than ten years ago to improve their living environment. Every tree chopped down reduces the value of their £500,000 homes, they warned.

The aim of the scheme is to prevent trees falling into the highway, improve visibility at junctions and around signage, and to prevent flooding.

A CBC project brief said that it would remove “hazardous trees that will fall on the highway before the next inspection cycle”.

Other aspects of the work include “clearing vegetation from drainage ditches, dredging these ditches to clear blockages and improve flow, and alleviating the subsidence of the carriageway”.

It suggested materials removed should be “disposed of responsibly based on the contamination level of the sediment”, with verges considered “wide enough for this to be scattered on site”.

Ampthill Town Council agreed at its meeting last month to write to CBC asking for clarification over the works and any mitigation measures.

The town council was hoping to arrange a meeting with CBC, the industrial estate management, and representatives of Ampthill Heights and Rye Field.

The focus of the work is due to switch to ditch clearance, gullies and fence repairs this month, according to a post on the group’s Facebook page.

Ward councillors have been told that “the remaining hawthorn hedgerow, north of Wagstaff Way roundabout, and mature cypress and field maple shelter belt trees southwards from the roundabout won’t be interfered with”.

A section of fence which was damaged before being revealed by the clearance will be replaced, while “further tree felling isn’t adjacent to the estate, but along the verges south of its boundary”.