RESIDENTS in Meltham are furious at the "devastation" of part of a woodland opposite their homes.
An established oak tree, a beech and three sycamores have been felled at the bottom of a wood in Thick Hollins Drive.
Residents have mounted a campaign and are protesting about the loss, which they believe has been done in preparation for a planning application for two houses.
They are angry the trees have been removed before the application has been submitted.
The company which owns the land says it is simply clearing it and has no firm plans.
One of the protesters, Mrs Karen Varley, said one of the trees had been a beautiful old oak.
She added: "There's a lot of wildlife in the woods, including birds and bats. Also, children enjoy playing in the area and it simply looks nice."
Mrs Karen Corneille said: "The main issue is about the tress, but also about the knock-on effect if the houses are built, such as drainage, noise pollution and general disruption."
The protesters said that as soon as they realised what was happening they approached Kirklees Council to try to get tree preservation orders imposed - which has now happened.
"But it was too late for the trees that had gone," said protester Mrs Carol Pickett.
Mr Clive Lloyd, director of a limited company which is part of Meltham-based development firm Acre Developments involved in the tree-felling, said the land was marked as development land in Kirklees's blueprint, the UDP.
He said the company had owned part of the wood for two years, adding: "We needed to clear it to appreciate the site and see what could be achieved with it."
He said that because the land was not covered by a tree preservation order they had the right to fell the trees.
He added: "We built a cottage at the end of this plot and would like to put a further building on the remainder of the site. With one exception, none of the trees were more than 20 years old."