THE borough's environmental boss has cited health and safety concerns as the reason for the cutting of tree branches by the bird estate during bird nesting season.

Stourbridge resident Michael Liley contacted the News when he saw the work underway yesterday to remove branches from a row of around five roadside trees in Dunsley Road at its junction with Partridge Road.

He said he was concerned about the "inappropriate timing of the work" at a time when birds may be nesting in the large maple trees.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley Council's cabinet member for public realm, however, has stressed tree surgeons had been to check there were no birds nesting in the trees before work commenced and she said in this case the pruning had been ordered as parts of the trees had become weak in places where they were previously pollarded.

She added: "We had to cut them right back for health and safety reasons."

Mr Liley, however, said: "If they knew they'd got this scheduled, why couldn't they have carried out the work in, say, March before the trees came into full leaf or late summer/autumn when the bird breeding season has finished and there is less impact on other forms of wildlife?"

He said he's "fully aware that pollarding, if done carefully, is unlikely to kill the trees, and they will form new branches/limbs, over time" but he said: "There's no reason why the work couldn't have been carried out sympathetically, and at the correct time of year.

"I'm informed the trees have been checked for nests, but with the dense sycamore and Norway maple foliage as it is, I don't think they could possibly have checked thoroughly enough."

Stourbridge environmental campaigner Mark Binnersley said the council really shouldn't be cutting tree branches at this time "unless there is some kind of danger to life" and he said: "We also need a strategy for tree cover across Dudley.

"I see people cutting down mature trees to increase driveway space for cars.

"In isolation this might not seem so bad but when multiple trees across neighbourhoods are being lost, this amounts to quite a large loss of urban habitat for insects and birds.

"Trees also play an important role in keeping urban areas cool, so we need them more than ever as the planet continues to heat up. Let's stop putting machines before nature."