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SWATHES of trees have been chopped down at a prescious Hadleigh wood, leaving locals in tears.

Coppicing is being carried out at Hadleigh Great Wood by Southend Council, who own it, in an effort to manage the Site of Special Scentific Interest.

However, Norman Ladzrie, a Castle Point councillor, claims five to ten acres of trees have been cut down as a result of aggressive coppicing.

He tabled a motion at a special Castle Point council meeting on Wednesday, February 20 calling for talks with colleagues in Southend about what was being done to the wood.

Mr Ladzrie said: “I walk these woods every day with my dogs and meet many people over there. I have seen people in tears at what is happening and they constantly ask ‘what can we do about this?’

“The reason for this motion is quite simply so this council, which is the planning authority, get in conversation with Southend Council, Natural England and Essex Wildlife Trust to discuss this matter and come to some arrangement where coppicing is sympathetic with the woodland.”

He claimed tractors, brush cutters and chainsaws were being used to complete the works in “one fell swoop” rather than in stages.

However, Paul Jenkinson, Southend Council’s park’s technical officer, said the wood was re-coppiced on a 20 to 25 year cycle to encourage new woodland wildlife.

Mr Jenkinson said: “The stumps created by the coppicing will produce new shoots and re-grow. These stumps themselves can live for hundreds of years.

“Coppicing is highly beneficial to woodland wildlife. It enables flora and fauna to colonise new areas of the woodland by allowing light to reach the woodland floor.”

John Hall, CEO of the Essex Wildlife Trust, added: “Coppicing does look drastic when the trees and shrubs are actually cut at this time of year.

“The coppice quickly re-grows and this is partly what maintains the interest of these woodlands. Coppicing does need to be carefully planned and there is an approved plan at Hadleigh Great Wood.

“It does, in our experience, help to reduce the impact if coppicing is moved around the woodland compartments so that the coppiced areas are not adjacent and do not look so large.”