MORE than 60 trees protecting birds and shielding walkers have been “butchered” in a vandal attack.

The trees, stretching along a 100 metre section of coastal path between Greenfield and Bagillt, have been hacked down leaving a clean-up bill of £1,000.

But those responsible, and their motivation, remain a mystery.

Mike Taylor, a senior countryside ranger for Flintshire Council, said the hawthorn trees provided protection and potential nesting sites for birds along the estuary as well as shielding walkers on the coastal footpath.

He said: “Someone has cut down the trees. We had been using them for screening birds for protection and screening walkers on the coastal path.

“We have spent two years looking after them. It is upsetting because we have worked so hard to retain them.

“We might get a lot of growth from the stumps if we are lucky. It is quite damaging.”

He added: “They were potential nesting sites for birds. We are quite upset.”

The trees could take 15 to 20 years to grow back on the site near Greenfield Business Park.

Mr Taylor said: “Someone has butchered them back. No official organisation that we work with has gone down there and there have been no accidents with our team.

“We are keen to find out who it was. It is a bit of a mystery as to who has done it. Somebody has spent a lot of time down there. We can’t fathom it.”

“People should not be cutting things down in these protected sites.”

Bagillt county councillor Mike Reece is ward member for the area, he said: “This is sheer vandalism. The countryside rangers are doing a good job. This is going to cost funds to put back in order.

“This has affected the environment, they are trying to get the area nice.”

The matter has not yet been referred to police but discussions are under way with the Countryside Council for Wales on what action should be taken next.