RESIDENTS are angry after trees were cut down in a village - a move they claim has contributed to flooding in the area.

Road maintenance organisation National Highways is accused of 'coming in like a tornado' and felling trees on land next to a disused railway bridge in Barrowland Lane, Toller Porcorum.

A resident and local landowner, who did not want to be identified, is unhappy about the work and says notice should have been given that it was going to be carried out.

The resident also claimed that the works led to flooding, since the chippings from the tree felling had blocked drains in the village.

National Highways said it was asked to undertake tree felling by Dorset Council as part of works to stop the bridge being further damaged by tree growth. A spokesman stated that any flooding was not a result of the works and had been an issue in the area for many years.

The resident, who did not wish to be identified, said: "It’s outrageous, they came in like a tornado, removing everything in their path.

“It was wild and unspoilt - full of lovely things - but they’ve cleared all the vegetation and trees from around the bridge. The chippings were spread over the embankment, but they’ve now washed into the road drains which have blocked, so there’s a massive flood there at the moment."

The HRE Group - made up of engineers, sustainable transport advocates and greenway developers - wants to use the bridge at Toller in its ambitious plans to develop a sustainable railway and cycle link from West Bay to Maiden Newton.

It fears the bridge could be demolished in future plans.

National Highways manages more than 3,200 former railway structures across the country. An upcoming programme of works will see 22 of them put to use once again, with nine bridges being removed and a further 69 being filled in. National Highways has put its programme of demolition and infilling on hold for the time being.

National Highways’ Head of Historical Railways Estate Programme Hélène Rossiter said: “The Historical Railways Estate (HRE) is an important part of our industrial heritage. Any plans to demolish the bridge over Barrowland Lane are currently on hold as part of a national pause on infilling and demolition activity across the HRE.

“This has been put in place to give local authorities, stakeholders and interest groups more time to fully consider structures as part of their local active travel plans for walking, cycling and heritage railways. We have also set up a national Stakeholder Advisory Forum (SAF) to support engagement with interested stakeholders.

“Dorset Council is fully involved with National Highways on developing plans for this structure and the future use of the area as part of an active travel route. The removal of trees around the structure has been necessary to limit ground movements which were causing cracking and rotation of the abutments on the bridge.”