Work to fell dozens of trees in a “green oasis” has been branded a “massacre” by dog walkers.

Withdean Woods in Brighton were cleared out due to the risk of diseased ash trees falling on to homes and paths.

Brighton and Hove City Council was labelled “tree vandals” for the clearance work by some disgruntled residents.

Dog walkers called The Argus with fears about the state the woodland was left in with logs lying around and paths “churned up”. They worried that the job was finished with no sign of workers since last Thursday.

The Argus: Dog walkers are upset by the state of Withdean WoodsDog walkers are upset by the state of Withdean Woods (Image: The Argus)

But the council has now clarified that work is expected to finish this week and it will ensure the woodland is left in a better state once felling has finished.

“It’s a travesty. These paths were much narrower, not all churned up. Where we used to walk down was lovely, it was fairly flat path,” said Sharon Ruben, who lives in nearby Old Court Close.

“When they came here two years ago I was told by the council, they said they were going to do some tree clearing. I was pretty unhappy about it because the birds were about to nest.

“The trees were very dense, they said it will allow some trees to grow better and they are introducing new trees. But this isn’t tree surgery, I could have done this with a chainsaw.

The Argus: People say saplings have been killed and paths churned upPeople say saplings have been killed and paths churned up (Image: The Argus)

“I’d say it’s a massacre, just look at the people having to tip toe through past fallen logs and the churned up paths.

“One woman’s path from her house was barricaded in with wood. She had to scramble over piles of wood to get out with her dog.

“If this is the finished product, the council should tidy up a bit and make sure people can enjoy the walk.

“They planted a load of saplings before but some have been battered to death by the machinery.”

The Argus: Lumber which is due to be removed from the siteLumber which is due to be removed from the site (Image: The Argus)

The works were initially pencilled in for February 26 until March 11 but have been delayed due to heavy rainfall, the council said.

One dog walker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I like to think the council know what they’re doing. Obviously it looks awful now but perhaps in two or three years it will have done this wood a lot of good.

“They obviously felt it needed doing so I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. It’s sad for now but within three years it will look how it did.”

The Argus: People are upset by the tracks left in the forest by the machinesPeople are upset by the tracks left in the forest by the machines (Image: The Argus)

Tim Rowkins, chairman of the council’s city environment, South Downs and the sea committee, said: “The work includes the removal of timber, chipping and branches and the levelling of the path which has been churned up due to the heavy machinery and rainfall.

“Any saplings lost will be replaced in the next round of replanting work at the park.

“We’ve also had to remove a limited number of non-ash trees to enable the use of heavy machinery. A small number of elm trees known to be infected with Elm Disease have also been removed.

“All of the timber prepared and stacked during these works will be removed at the appropriate time.

“Our contractors are working very hard across different sites to complete these priority public safety works as soon as possible.”

The council apologised for damage to recently planted trees.