A FIGHT is on to save eleven trees in Tavistock, currently safeguarded under preservation orders, from being felled.

Angry residents in Wyatts Lane say removing the eleven ash and sycamore trees would change the nature of the landscape and have a negative impact on wildlife using the habitat.

A planning application to fell the trees has been lodged with West Devon Borough Council. As the eleven trees within the hedgebank at Wyatts Lane are safeguarded under tree preservation orders made 12 years ago, planning approval has to be granted before they can be removed or surgery work carried out.

The applicant says the trees must be felled because they are too close to existing housing, but residents say it was the builders' decision to put up new housing so close to the trees in the first place.

'They built almost entirely adjacent to the trees and now they are actually saying the trees are causing a problem, but it's a problem of their own making,' said Jude Lawrence who lives in Wyatts Lane.

'The trees are not diseased, there is nothing wrong with them,' Mrs Lawrence said. They were heavily infested with ivy, she said, but this did not require them to be felled.

She disputed the applicant's argument that the trees needed to be removed because leaf-drop could block the culvert and cause flooding.

She said there had always been a flooding problem with water pouring in from the bordering field, and felling the trees would not help prevent this.

Mrs Lawrence said people were aware there were trees nearby when they bought homes in a leafy part of Tavistock.

Catherine Allen, who also lives in the lane, said:'The trees give the lane character and are an important part of our home environment. They are also home to many different birds and animals.'

Peter Rowan, of Rowan Edwards, who is acting as agent for the applicant Moore and Son builders, said a tree survey report had been submitted with the application.

A tree survey commissioned by Mr Rowan from independent expert Suzi Allen argues that the trees are too close to homes, as well as a stream, pond and culvert. The report states the autumn leaf-fall from these deciduous trees could cause blockages at the entrance of the culvert, possibly leading to flooding.

'The trees are not of outstanding amenity importance. They are merely overgrown hedgerow material which was singled out and has been allowed to grow over the years,' the report states.

The report also says replacement trees could be planted either side of the access road, within the garden areas rather than on the hedgebank, where they would be unlikely to pose future problems.

These replacement trees could be 'more ornamental trees such as cherries or rowans which would be more in keeping with the scale and character of this small residential estate than forest-sized native trees,' concluded Mrs Allen.

A decision on the application will be made by the borough planning committee after the public consultation period closes at the end of next month.