A TREASURED woodland has been saved from the chop after a spate of tree-felling set off local concerns.

A green protection order has been slapped on the ten acres of privately-owned land in Old Netley to prevent any further destruction.

Villagers were alarmed when they saw trees being cut down and burnt on the site off Priors Hill Lane.

The residents feared the clearance of the five acres of woodland by a private contractor would eventually see the decimation of the entire green lung. Hound borough councillor David Airey was one of those concerned when he saw "black, billowing clouds of smoke" appear over the site.

He told the Echo: "Residents from Old Netley and the Pilands estate started making contact and asking what was going on.

"It seemed that a lot of trees had been cut down and the site generally cleared.

"We need to ensure we have as much woodland as possible as the remaining areas seem to be getting smaller and smaller."

After being alerted to these fears, the local authority, Eastleigh Borough Council sent in its environmental experts with the power to place the woodland under formal protection. The land had already been covered by a number of tree preservation orders and a separate woodland order. Fortunately, none of the protected trees have been felled and it is hoped that the land will now be preserved from any future development.

An Eastleigh council spokesman said: "The council is aware that site clearance has been undertaken on the land and the landowner is aware of those trees which are affected by tree preservation orders and that part of the site which is covered by a woodland order.

"The council has now made a further tree preservation order which places the whole of the woodland south of Priors Hill Lane under a woodland tree preservation order.

"This prohibits future tree felling works without the consent of the Borough Council and the Forestry Commission."