The “scream of chainsaws is everywhere” around a village as developers chop down dozens of trees to make way for a brand-new relief road.
Teams from firm Countryside Properties carried out felling work along Canterbury Road in Herne last week – as it readies diggers to begin laying a multi-million-pound route in the summer.
Residents have been left appalled by the tree-cutting scheme, amid fears of the potential impact on local wildlife.
But bosses from Countryside stress they carried out the project at the start of nesting season – which begins in March – to mitigate any impact on birds.
Herne and Broomfield Parish Council chairman Carol Davis told KentOnline: “Anybody who’s got a garden can see birds have been nesting for a while now.
“It’s not good – they’ve had the whole winter to do it. They’ve done it too late.
“Most people are absolutely appalled. There’s an awful lot of disquiet about it and everybody’s talking about it.”
The new highway will extend from the roundabout near Herne Bay cemetery in Canterbury Road and end at another to be built by Kent County Council (KCC) in Bullockstone Road.
The authority launched five weeks of hewing work in Bullockstone Road at the end of January in preparation for its own roadworks.
Ms Davis says this has resulted in the loss of the route’s idyllic “green tunnel”.
“It seems at the moment that the scream of chainsaws is everywhere in Herne,” the parish councillor added.
“I know that if we’re going to have a road that’s wide enough to take the amount of traffic that’ll go along there, then it has to be done. But it’s still awful.”
Countryside has already been given the green light to build a completely new junction at the Canterbury Road roundabout to accommodate its route through the housing estate.
But it has launched another bid to instead reconfigure the roundabout, which would see the current Thanet Way on-slip towards Whitstable sealed off.
A new exit will funnel motorists onto the housing development’s spine route, which will be equipped with a traffic-lit junction leading to the Thanet Way.
A spokesman for Countryside says the firm aims to “provide impactful and thoughtful landscaping to create rich and vibrant neighbourhoods” on the site.
“The removal of these trees, authorised by KCC, will enable us to carry out essential roadworks, which will reduce pressure on the existing road network,” the company official said.
“The decision was made to undertake the removal of these trees now, early in the season, to mitigate any chance of disturbing nesting birds.
“Prior to any works commencing, a licenced ecologist surveyed the trees and confirmed that none of the ones taken down had nesting birds in situ.
“As part of the new development, we will be planting hundreds of new trees, and extensive greenery, with a carefully considered masterplan that will improve the area’s ecology.”
A KCC spokesman says the work is “essential” to align and widen the road to deliver the improvement scheme.