TREES that have been growing for 40 years were hacked down in ten minutes of “absolute devastation”, an angry resident has said.

Derrick Boxall, who lives in St Paul’s Road in Salisbury, was furious when contractors turned up on Thursday and cut away a 60-foot section of trees from a sign on Churchill Way West, exposing him and his neighbours to the busy A36 road.

The Journal reported last week that the sign was completely covered by hedges and unreadable, causing tourists to get lost. The Highways Agency sent out contractors to tackle the problem but Mr Boxall says they have gone too far.

He said: “They only needed to take out about ten feet and instead they’ve taken out 20 yards.

“Those trees have been there for about 40 years and now we have stumps. They caused absolute devastation in ten minutes and when I asked why they had removed so much they said they don’t want to come back every year. My neighbours are up in arms about it.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous and we’ve now got three houses looking onto the main road. Those trees were there before the sign, they were put there to stop the fumes and block the view of the traffic. The noise is louder now, it was quite a thick hedge, and we can see the cars now there’s no barrier.

“I was very angry when I saw it, it’s savagery.”

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “The Highways Agency recently removed some branches alongside the A36 to allow a new direction sign to be installed. The branches obstructed visibility of the new sign and following discussions with Salisbury City Council, they agreed to their removal so drivers could see the directions.

“Trees can give the impression that noise is being reduced since they do form a visual barrier, however they do not have a material effect on noise.”