CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed Government plans to provide greater protection for trees in urban areas.

Public consultation is now underway on a raft of Department for Environment proposals which, if approved, would protect trees from being unnecessarily cut down.

Communities would have a say on whether street trees should be felled with requirements for councils to consult local residents.

Councils would also be given responsibility to report on tree felling and replanting, to ensure communities could safeguard our environment for future generations.

The Forestry Commission would also have more powers to tackle illegal tree felling and strengthen protection of wooded landscapes.

The public consultation is part of the Government's ongoing work to protect and promote precious trees, and to re-affirm its commitment to plant one million trees in towns and cities, in addition to eleven million trees nationwide over the course of this parliament.

Last month, West Kirby Conservative councillor Gerry Ellis presented a petition signed by 476 people after a number of trees were felled in Ashton Park, West Kirby, following an inspection.

The felling was described by campaigner and local ecologist Diane Johnson as 'ill-advised vandalism'.

But the park's friends group described the work as 'regrettable' but 'necessary'.

Speaking on behalf of campaigners, Conservative ward councillor for West Kirby, Gerry Ellis said: "The way in which the Council has behaved in Ashton Park has been very heavy handed and dismissive of the concerns of local residents.

"I'm delighted these new proposals will ensure this can never happen again and that councils can't cut down trees without first consulting communities.

"Ashton Park is a jewel in our local environment and is loved by residents of West Kirby, Hoylake and further afield.

"The council's actions have caused considerable distress and anger in the local community."

In November, Wirral cabinet member for leisure and recreation, Cllr Phillip Brightmore, said the tree-felling was necessary, adding: "No one wants to see trees, especially mature trees such as these, felled.

"But an examination of them by tree specialists has revealed they would be a danger to the public, including the many families with young children who use the play area and it is vital that action is taken.

"Safety of the public must be paramount."

Welcoming the Government's plans, the Forestry Commission's director of forest services, Richard Greenhous, added: "The Forestry Commission recognises that our trees and woodlands are under increasing pressure, especially in and around urban areas.

"With this consultation we hope to be able to better protect more of our cherished woodlands from illegal felling."

To take part in the consultation, visit