An investigation has been launched after protected trees have been “mistakenly” cut down as part of the work to build a new bypass in Hampshire.
Three ash trees that were protected under a blanket Tree Preservation Order have been felled as part of the work to build the Botley bypass.
The three trees were located on land off Woodhouse Lane in Hedge End.
Hampshire County Council, which is responsible for the scheme, said the three trees have been “mistakenly removed” and an investigation has been launched.
Cllr Rupert Kyrle, county councillor for the Botley and Hedge End North division, raised concerns and described the incident as “worrying”.
The county council said its plans specified the removal of only seven trees from alongside Woodhouse Lane.
However, during a routine supervision visit, the project arboriculturist identified that ten trees had been removed from this area.
The authority said an investigation is underway “into where responsibility lies for this error”.
Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for economy, transport and environment at the county council, said: “As soon as we were alerted to the incident, we put measures in place to stop any further tree clearance and launched an investigation. I was sorry to hear this has happened, and I can confirm that this error will be fully investigated. Our contractor has apologised and we will work with them to agree to replant large mature trees.”
The council said a detailed check will be undertaken with contractor Volker Fitzpatrick to establish exactly what clearance has taken place and what remains to be done.
Cllr Kyrle said residents had previously raised concerns over plans to remove trees at the site to make way for the bypass.
Talking about the latest incident, he added: “It is very worrying that this has happened. We need to clearly understand what has gone wrong and we want to make sure it does not happen again. I am very angry about this because we have lost living trees for no reason at all. We have lost three trees through an error that should have been never allowed to take place. That is a real shame.”
The news comes as plans to build the long-awaited Botley bypass were approved in 2018.
As reported, the bypass is expected to run from the junction of the A334 and A3051, near to Mill Hill, at the south-eastern end to Woodhouse Lane, passing to the north and east of Botley village and crossing Winchester Street.
This first phase of the work will provide a widened carriageway, as well as a shared footway and cycleway along Woodhouse Lane.
Volker Fitzpatrick has been approached for comment.