CONCERNED residents are set to protest over potential tree felling plans near Southampton Airport.

The protesters will gather on March 12 at 5pm outside the Civic Centre after plans for tree work at Marlhill Copse, the area of land south of the A27 have been submitted.

Southampton Airport said it bought the land in August last year to chop down and prune trees in the area.

Now a planning application to fell 27 trees at the site has sparked concerns with residents.

Airport bosses said they do not have plans for development.

They said the airport is legally required to manage the height of trees in areas close to the runway.

Gareth Narbed, 61, who has organised the protest came across the tree-felling markings in Marlhill Copse whilst he was on a walk.

He said: "It was my horror at the destruction proposed that led me to find out what was going on."

Gareth previously organised walk and meeting with residents to discuss the plans and more than 25 people attended.

The council has also already received five letters of complaints.

In his letter of complaint Simon Oldham said: “The loss of many of these trees will be a loss of protection for the houses in the area and to the ward in general.”

Campaigners will protest alongside a solo violinist and will sing songs led by local conductor Maggie O'Connor.

Gareth said:" The campaigners say they are determined to enjoy themselves.

"They are also demanding that the city council recognise tree-preservation as a key requirement for all council decisions under Southampton’s Flagship policy of a Green City Charter."

Co-founder of Clean Air Southampton, Liz Batten, from Bitterne Park said: “I am astonished that the same City Council that wants to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 is allowing the destruction of one of the City’s green lungs”.

A spokeswoman for the airport explained the work is to ensure planes can take off and land safely. She added: “Although a large number of trees in the copse have been marked and may need some form of management, the vast majority of those trees marked are minor crown reductions which will not affect the trees. Whilst we cannot confirm exact start date at this time, work will be completed within a relatively short time-frame, and we aim to have all works completed by next spring. The footpath will remain and access gates will be installed on completion to prevent fly tipping but still allow people, bikes and dog walkers to pass through the area.”

She also said the airport is working at plans to maintain the ancient woodland.