A number of protected trees have been chopped down without consent leaving residents in uproar.

Contractors for housing group Together Housing, which owns a piece of land on St Alban’s Road in Darwen earmarked for development, cut down several trees, despite there being tree preservation orders in place on the majority of them.

Residents in the area were left gobsmacked when they saw workers pulling down protected cherry, holly and hawthorn trees, and demanded answers as to why the work was allowed to go ahead.

Carol Tapp, who lives in the next street, said: “We approached the workmen telling them the trees were protected but they said they were simply ‘carrying out what they had been asked to do’.

“Which begs the question as to who, actually, defied the laws of the land?

Lancashire Telegraph: The trees, which had TPOs on them, were cut down without permission

“Within hours, not only beautiful trees and undergrowth had been destroyed, but also nests and bird boxes that had been there for decades.

“Consequently, there’s a gaping hole where there was once plentiful wildlife and glorious and healthy trees.”

Mrs Tapp said last Friday a tree protection officer for Blackburn with Darwen Council visited the site and confirmed the company had cut down protected trees without permission.

Lancashire Telegraph: The trees, which had TPOs on them, were cut down without permission

She added: “The heartbreak of residents has now turned to extreme anger, especially as the workmen were told face-to-face, and in detail, of the protection order.

“The trees have been there for well over eighty years.

“What’s the point of tree protection orders if they’re going to be ignored?”

Gavin Prescott, planning manager at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said the council had worked hard to retain several trees in the vicinity and were disappointed that the protected trees had been removed.

Mr Prescott said: “As part of our thorough planning process for the redevelopment of the site, our officers worked closely with the agent and consultants to retain a number of trees there.

“While the trees themselves were not of great quality, they were important as a group in providing screening for the neighbouring properties.

Lancashire Telegraph: The trees, which had TPOs on them, were cut down without permission

“We are incredibly disappointed that, despite the tree protection order being in place, they’ve been removed without our prior approval as the local planning authority.

“We are now working with the developers to ensure this issue is resolved urgently, with a revised landscaping scheme that will include the planting of new, mature trees and screening that will provide instant cover once again for the residents living nearby.”

Hilary Brady, Director of Development for Together Housing Group, said: "We understand that some trees on one of our development sites have been removed in error.

"We are very sorry to learn that the local residents have been upset by this and we are currently investigating the matter with the contractor on site, Vistry Partnerships. 

"It is a regrettable situation that we are seeking to rectify.

"We are actively working with the contractor to ensure that the trees that have been removed are replaced in agreement with the local authority.

"It is very important to us that we maintain ecological value as much as possible therefore we will ensure that any replacement will benefit the local wildlife and contribute to the local habitat."