COVE historian Arthur Lunn is up in arms after Rushmoor Council suddenly chopped down two of a row of oak trees that he managed to save in a Star-backed campaign nine years ago.

Rushmoor says that the trees were dead or dying and were a danger to the highway, but the octogenarian author says he has examined the stumps and there is no sign of rot.

"Both were fine specimens, one perhaps 200 years old and the other a youngster of not much more than a century" he told the Star. "Are the remaining 14 trees on the tree preservation order safe or can they also be felled at a moment's notice?"

Back in 1993 Arthur had a petition of more than 100 names behind him as he campaigned through the Star to save the trees when they were threatened by a new housing development. Rushmoor councillor Brian Oliver took up the cudgels and 16 trees were saved.

Rushmoor's tree officer, Ian May, said that the work had been carried out by the highways department. He said that tree preservation orders did not cover any that were dead, dying or dangerous.

"I have no reason to suspect that any of the others are under threat," he added.

The Council's Head of Highway and Transport Services, Jim Pettitt, said reports showed that one tree was 95 per cent dead while the second was also affected and would have been made more vulnerable if left on its own.

Mr Pettitt said it was possible that the trees had suffered root damage from the recent construction of a new roundabout at that end of Arrow Road. The council could not take the risk of branches falling on people.