CAMPAIGNERS are toasting success after trees in part of an ancient woodland were saved from the axe.

Rochford Council’s development control committee had been recommended to approve plans for a number of trees in woodlands in Glencrofts, Hawkwell, to be chopped down so a neighbouring resident could extend their residential garden.

Furious residents opposed the plan and called for the trees - a mix of oak, hawthorn and laurel trees - to be saved.

Councillors rejected the plan following an impassioned plea from the public.

Councillors unanimously voted to throw out the plans on the basis it would be “detrimental to wildlife” and “public amenities”.

Speaking at the meeting, resident Paul Johnson said: “This needs to be refused and the whole of the public woodland should be protected as an asset.

“The land is not underdeveloped, and it has been developed over a long time by nature.

“We draw attention to the officer’s report, the policy states this plan would be acceptable as long as it does impact on open space, this definitely impacts, and it reduces the size of the woodland by 20 per cent.

“The natural tree and shrub hedges protect the habitats of wildlife like a shell should protect an egg and everyone should be worried about the precedent here, the remaining 20 per cent of the woodland is extremely vulnerable.

“This plan would result in 20 per cent of public woodland being fence off to provide a massive garden for the exclusive enjoyment of one family.”

George Sutherland, a White Hart Lane resident who previously spoke out against the plan has welcomed the news.

He said: “It was amazing.

“Let’s hope this is the end of this matter. The ward councillors were well spoken and not happy with the application for change of use, it was a surprise, a pleasant surprise.

“We are going to toast to it and we hope, now, rather than leave it as it is, we can make improvements and make it a real community asset.”

Hawkwell West councillor Nick Booth said: “Greater beauty is admired from a distance, the changes would take this away from so many families.

“Our country is already one of the least biodiverse in the world and I cannot see how any species will be protected by extending a residential garden.”