WALKERS and hikers are up in arms over the felling of trees, scrubbing out of hedges and hardcore laid along an ancient byway by a land owner at Ford near Chippenham.

The Old Coach Road in the village cuts up over a hill before re-joining the current A420. The section from the village has a tarmac surface up a hill where there are several homes but further along the byway was of mixed construction hemmed in by trees and bushes.

Landowner Beeswax Dyson Farming deny they have done anything wrong citing the trees were showing signs of disease and they had a responsibility to maintain hedges, trees and byways.

However, Ford farm worker Ashley Louth who walks his dog diesel along the path didn’t buy that idea and was concerned by the damage to the hedges and wild habitat during the operation that took place in April.

Mr Louth saw the re-surfacing of the byway could be seen by some people as a chance to turn the public path into a private road rather than to maintain the byway for the use of farm vehicles.

Margery Burston of Ford was angry that nesting birds and wildlife had been damaged by Dyson.

In reply Dyson said: “Beeswax Dyson Farming takes its responsibilities for maintaining its estate hedgerows, trees and byways extremely seriously and have invested heavily over many years to ensure our stewardship of the countryside is of the highest quality. We have certainly not damaged hedgerows as suggested and have simply acted to remove two dangerous ash trees showing signs of Stage 2 Ash die back. We, also have a duty to repair byways for the safety and enjoyment of users.”

Dyson said their stewardship of the land would mean new trees would be planted to replace those felled and were committed to ‘sustainable hedgerow management.’ One resident who did not wish to be named said that some residents on the hill approved of the work carried out.